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Nesting out the potential of sports medicine to Kenya’s healthcare system

Author: Gabriel Tabona
Copyrights: Gabriel Tabona

Nesting out the potential of sports medicine to Kenya’s healthcare system

Gabriel Tabona argues that sports medicine can be plugged into mainstream healthcare in Kenya.

Following the footsteps of the great influenza, albeit in peace-time, coronavirus has occasioned massive commercial losses in the sporting world. In Kenya, Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers, Kenyan Premier League and League cup fixtures have been temporarily called-off. While World Athletics Under-20 championships, which was slated to take place in Nairobi, was postponed not forgetting cancellation of the lucrative golf and athletics event, Magical Kenya Open and Lewa Half Marathon respectively. Continentally, the Confederation of Africa Football has been forced to postpone African Nations Championships (CHAN).

At the macro level, healthcare provision is bound to take a hit after the Central Bank of Kenya lowered its economic growth projections from 6.2 to 3.4 percent amid a weakening shilling.

The predicament offers opportunities for local sports federations to assert the role of medical committees in national healthcare. Tasked with undertaking in-sport activities in the areas of sports nutrition, sports psychology, injury prevention, to mention just but a few, these bodies are normally viewed as dormant annexes in local sports governing bodies, often depending on their parent international federation’s programmes like F-MARC.

Proclaiming their insight of sport can make a difference in the National Big 4 agenda’s Universal Health Coverage hence public spending of healthcare can be harnessed towards preventive initiatives.

For instance, Football Kenya Federation’s (FKF) medical committee can form synergies with Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Ministry of Health and Ministry of sport to mobilise research funding from the National Sports Fund.

FKF can piggy back on the annual Kenya Demographic Health Survey, by coming up with “Kenya Football Medicine Survey” to gather data on what epidemiological themes such as malaria prevent maximum participation in football. Interventions from the research will not only sustain participation in sport but will also help avert diseases that affect national and grassroots sports programmes.

Additionally, diseases such as zika virus, which negatively impacted on the organization of Rio 2016, can easily be tackled by replicating World Anti-Doping Agency’s concept of athlete biological passport hence being able to forecast health dynamics through continuous monitoring.

Beyond their primary focus on performance-based responsibilities, active medical committees are anchors whose input can feed in to positive health outcomes of a nation and this can only be maximised when explicitly defined multi-disciplinary effort is pursued.

This article was submitted by Gabriel Tabona.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - 02:34