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Lonely journey for athletes and team officials who fall sick



In a perfect world, Beryl Oketch who is the team manager of Football Kenya Federation Women Premier League club Kisumu AllStarlets would be focused on getting the right treatment and making a full recovery, not agonising over her hospital bill and pleading with well-wishers all the way from Romania to help.

But there is nothing perfect about this world. Which is why Beryl, a dedicated representative of a women’s premier league team, is struggling to access the medical support she needs and deserves.

Beryl was diagnosed with Endometriosis a while back and has underwent four surgeries in Nairobi.

Despite that, she has remained in pain and shuttling in and out of hospital for the last few months.

This prompted her to seek specialised care in a hospital in Bucharest, Romania, through excision.

She arrived in Bucharest late last week and after a series of MRIs and scans, she got diagnosed with not just Endometriosis, but with Adenomyosis and a cyst in her only remaining ovary. She is devastated and experiencing what she calls “hellish pain”.

Beryl’s story again brings to the fore the issue of medical insurance, or lack of it, for Kenyan athletes. We have witnessed far too many cases of footballers having to quit the game after collecting injuries nobody wants to pay for. How frustrating it must feel to put your best foot forward in your team, only to find yourself alone and neglected when you incur an injury on that foot, or fall sick.

I am acutely aware that this is not an issue that only affects sports personalities. Medical healthcare in this country, for everyone, is quite expensive. And if you are talking about specialised care, the costs can quickly skyrocket out of reach. Beryl, a woman who thoroughly enjoys and is passionate about serving young female footballers from Kisumu, whose work has probably saved many young girls from teenage pregnancy and delinquency, is battling unimaginable pain and at the same time worrying about whether or not she will afford her bill.

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Her diagnosis with an additional disease, Adenomyosis, makes her situation even more complicated. Her friends have been fundraising for her treatment and travel to Romania, which is why she has now turned to the public to help her cause.

If there is any lessons to be learnt from this, it is that proper medical insurance is an important issue for all athletes, male or female. We must ensure that all players are covered under worthy medical schemes. Beyond that, we must hold sports leaders accountable every time they turn a blind eye on sick players or other team members, and dismissing their plight as a personal problem.

Failure to afford specialised care is not a personal problem, it is our collective responsibility because this is a matter of life and death. Also, it can happen to anyone.

This is an issue that requires a multi-sectorial approach, perhaps led by sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, and proper funding. For now, however, Beryl requires our help. Her pending bill stands at Sh700,000, and she can be reached on @BerylMonique on Facebook and Instagram.

Contributions are being channeled through care giver Richard Oketch Mulure of telephone number 0710421678, who is also her husband.


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