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Friday, September 9, 2011

Halal Medicine in Eastleigh

The Business Daily Africa has this interesting article on a nascent business that's taking Eastleigh by storm.

Eastleigh area is arguably the best place to shop for textiles and electronics in Nairobi.
These businesses are mainly driven by the Somali community that forms a significant population. Initially a nondescript area full of poorly-planned buildings, its newer inhabitants’ affluence is rapidly changing the face of Eastleigh.
The old buildings are coming down and modern shopping malls taking their places. The previously popular bedsitters are also giving way to modern apartments. Big banks all have branches in Eastleigh.
Not to be left behind, major private hospitals are also moving in. Already, a leading children’s hospital has opened a satellite clinic and two others are in the process of opening up in the next quarter.
But Eastleigh is also turning out to be the centre of another niche product; Halal medicine. Just like the financial sector where Sharia-compliant products have become popular with banks, enterprising doctors have also seen the potential in halal medicine.
The huge Muslim populace means that a market exists for such a product. The high per capita among some of the residents also means that privately- run facilities charging significantly higher than most of the other Islamic charity- run medical centres will still have clients.
For any hospital visit, small things make a major difference in the experience.
For instance, the music or TV channel showing at the reception may appear innocuous to some patients but quite important to others. Some patients are offended by the content. In these FM and liberal TV days, you never know what you will hear or see.
Early in my career, an experience I had finds relevance in this situation.
My female patient was accompanied by a male relative who was not her husband. I told him to excuse us while I examined the patient if he was not her husband. An argument erupted only for me to later find out that their customs allowed him to be there.
Small things like these make a big difference to the patient.
Prayers are common in hospitls. Sadly though, some patients pray too loudly to the discomfort of others. It may be a bit uncomfortable for atheists or people of a different denomination.
Although prayer time, privacy, washroom facilities and diet may appear like irrelevant things, they count for a patient’s hospital experience.
As a result, a few facilities are coming up mostly along Juja Rd which is fast becoming like Ngong Road in its clustering of medical facilities. Halal dental clinics and chemists have sprung up. And coming soon is an ultra- modern 50-bed boutique hospital.
For the Halal facilities, the design and operations regard the patients’ religious and cultural views as important.
The details are taken care of— from the architecture (windows direction, ablution blocks design and amenities), diet and meal times (consisting of halal products and timed not to inconvenience prayers) and entertainment that does not offend religious sensibilities.
Although some people will argue against such enterprises as they tend to have more cultural and religious leanings,d the client should have the right of choice and a patient in the right mood is a better one.
Their success will spur other investors.

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