As part of Bupa Cares, our approach to responsible business, we aim to make a difference to the communities we serve. Our community investment activities are based around three key focus areas: health and wellbeing - with a focus on mental health, diversity and inclusion, and healthy environments.
In May this year, Bupa Global sponsored a two-day medical camp in the rural Maasai Mara in partnership with LifeCare International, one of its key intermediary partners in Kenya.
The ‘Better Together’ camp organised by Lifecare International with Action in Focus, Atua Enkop Africa and Taiba Medical Centre brings together support from across the health insurance industry to provide basic medical care to vulnerable communities who need it most.
In addition to sponsorship of the event, colleagues from Bupa Global and the Bupa Cromwell Hospital in the UK supported the camp by volunteering their time and/or medical expertise.
Across two days volunteers assisted over 2,400 people. Nairobi-based surgeon, Dr Khan performed two cleft lip operations, and removed a total of 31 tumours joined by Mr Ravi Singh, Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon at Bupa Cromwell Hospital. In addition, 38 cataract operations and 350 tooth extractions were also carried out by a team of other medical professionals.
Patrick Watt, Commercial Director for Bupa Global, volunteered at the camp and saw first-hand the difference it made to people’s lives. He said: “The area where the two main camps were located, Oloolaimutia and Sekenani, is home to some 6,000 people. It’s the only place with a doctor in the area and people walk for miles from nearby villages to access general GP advice and guidance. Most of the people who came to seek help had never had access to this kind of health service before.
"It was very moving to see first-hand the difference the camp made to so many people in a very real and true sense.
"The event was delivered in true partnership with other insurers Aetna, Allianz and Cigna. It was a unique and incredible opportunity to come together and respond as an industry, to make such a huge difference.
"Having been in the business for six years, I don’t think I’ve seen a better example of how we contribute to longer, healthier, happier lives. I came back hugely touched and moved by the experience.”
Laxmi Sonara, Regional Development Manager – Africa at Bupa Cromwell Hospital, organised medical support for the camp. She said: “On the first day our initial task was to set up the camp, unloading the equipment from the van, and following the lead pharmacists’ instructions for setting up a pop-up pharmacy.
"Afterwards I went to take a couple of pictures of the surgeries, but soon found my photography skills were in high demand with the surgeons wanting to capture the before and after pictures/videos for medical learning.
"I witnessed a big case involving a 60 year old man who had a benign tumour on the back of his neck about the size of a grapefruit. He told us he had been living with it for 15 years with great difficulty.
"The gentleman was on the operating table for about two hours – all hands on deck. After the procedure he got up and went straight home with his sons. He returned the next day for a follow up to make sure everything was okay, bringing traditional gifts as thanks.
"Another highlight was a case involving a heavily pregnant lady who arrived at the camp on the second day. She had no access to antenatal care and was attending to receive a check-up, but went into labour on arrival after walking for an hour or so! The first medical camp baby was born, with volunteers arranging a safe return trip home for mother and child.
"Volunteering at the camp and witnessing these incredibly brave people was inspiring and life changing.
"As a healthcare organisation we believe in giving back to the communities we serve and we would love to be able to support something like this again.”
Ravi Singh, Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon at Bupa Cromwell Hospital, provided additional support to the local consultant carrying out the surgeries at the camp. He said: “On the first morning I observed the local consultant, Dr Khan, and learnt his techniques based on the medical facilities available. He was really very inspirational.
"I carried out the sorts of surgeries that I would usually perform in my NHS or private practice in the UK. Dr Khan’s son was also at the camp as a medical student so I was able to coach him through a few operations.
"Dr Khan carried out two cleft lip surgeries under local anaesthetic. For these patients, the ability to speak, eat, drink or breathe would have been severely impaired. The surgery was a simple procedure but the impact was life-changing for them. He achieved really good results in the less than basic conditions and with the instruments that he had available.
"To help provide healthcare to a population for whom it is not available was a truly humbling experience. Some people travelled from over 300km, taking two-day journeys to get to the camp. The impact of what was done at the camp cannot in any way be underestimated.”