As part of their 2019 Community Ambassador Programme, CIGNA- a global health services company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and peace of mind, has partnered with the African Institute for Health and Development (AIHD)-which is a regional Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) - to undertake an initiative dubbed “Be Beautiful, Be Healthy”. The aim of this initiative is to mobilize barbershops and salons in Nairobi, to aid in the delivery of health promotion and disease prevention messages on Non-Communicable Diseases (hypertension and diabetes).
Headquartered in Belgium, Cigna has over 50 years of experience in designing, implementing and managing international group health insurance and employee benefits programmes for international and locally recruited staff from Intergovernmental (IGO) and Nongovernmental (NGO) organizations.
Cigna has almost 40,000 employees who service 85 million customer relationships throughout the world. The Nairobi office has 84 staff members and serves as the Africa headquarters.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represent a major public health problem. These diseases, mainly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases contribute to the majority of causes of death and constitute a major burden for socio-economic development especially in developing countries. The NCDs are chronic in nature and may not cure; however, existing evidence indicates that these diseases are largely preventable by means of effective intervention. In addition, early detection and proper management of such diseases can reduce morbidity and premature death and may improve the quality of life.
The key objectives of the Be Beautiful, Be Healthy initiative are:
- Mobilize a network of barbershops and beauty salons in Kenya to promote the Be Beautiful, Be Healthy Initiative;
- Share messages for the prevention and control of high blood pressure,diabetes,cancer and obesity; and
- Conduct free screenings to the hairderessers,barbers and their customers to encourage early detection and encourage the practice of screening.
The target areas for the Initiative are; Kilimani, Westlands, Nairobi Central Business District (CBD), Kenyatta Market, Kariobangi Northand Umoja Market. Ten (10) Clinical volunteers (nurses and nutritionists) have been recruited and trained and they will be dispatched to these salons to conduct health talks on a daily basis. In doing this, we have partnered with The Agakhan University hospital and the Good life Pharmacies to offer onsite free medical checkups on Saturdays at the various Salons and barbershops.
To ensure sustainability and scale of the Initiative, we have partnered with the Nairobi County Health department – NCD unit. The unit will also act as the point of referral more so, to the patients who will be found to have abnormal readings, hypertension and diabetics, for treatment.
The Initiative will be formally was launched during a breakfast meeting on 26th July at IBIS Style Hotel, Westlands. Key stakeholders present were drawn from the Government, civil society organization (CSOs), private sector, barbershops and saloons. The aim of the launch was to create awareness and buy-in among the stakeholders.