The National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and the Chiromo Hospital Group (CHG) have today entered into a Service Agreement through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will see the Level 5 specialized mental health hospital extend its services to Kenyan athletes in a joint campaign dubbed Tufunguke Wanaspoti.
The purpose of the MOU is to establish a collaborative agreement between NOC-K and CHG in the provision of promotive, preventive, and curative mental health services to Kenyan sportsmen and women.
Tufunguke Wanaspoti will see the sportsmen and women trained on how to identify, control and manage mental health-related conditions; build awareness by way of structured mental health talks as well as carry out digitized self-mental health wellness assessments.
The launch was attended by NOC-K 1st Deputy President Shadrack Maluki, 2nd Deputy President Waithaka Kioni, Secretary-General Francis Mutuku, Treasurer Eliud Kariuki and Athlete Representative Humphrey Kayange.
“This is a very defining moment for us at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya because we are marking another milestone in our partnership development with strategic stakeholders that add value to our athletes and assist them to perform optimally in their specialties,” remarked NOC-K’s Secretary-General, Francis Mutuku.
Mr. Mutuku assured the Hospital Group that was represented by the C.E.O Mr. Vincent Hongo during the signing ceremony, that NOC-K shall mobilize and facilitate its members for the critical services of mental health awareness talks and wellness through conferences and online platforms and other related ways towards the continuous sensitization on psychosocial matters.
During the recently held Tokyo 2020 Olympics, NOC-K enhanced the services to the athletes by providing a range of technical personnel to complement the work of coaches and other athlete entourage teams in the areas of sports science, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and sports psychology, among others.
The first deputy president Mr. Shadrack Maluki, representing the NOC-K president, expressed his gratitude on his behalf for the partnership in such a great initiative.
“This actually is a bit late and should have come much earlier, Mr. Waithaka Kioni was in-charge of Tokyo Team Kenya as the Chef De Mission and can attest to the importance of a healthy mind alongside a strong physique. The pressure to perform will be big this year with the Commonwealth Games and Africa Youth Games around the corner.”
Humphrey Kayange who has produced some of the best performances for the National Sevens Team and a member of the International Olympic Committee, Athlete’s Commission spoke on the significance of the partnership, citing there was no assessment and focus on mental wellness in the past as much as physical fitness.
“During transitioning from active sports, it’s important to have support for athletes. We’re happy that Chiromo (Hospital Group) is here not only to offer services to athletes but also the support system that deals with athletes. We’re looking forward to dealing with experts and having this service at a time when mental health has a lot of gravity.”
NOC-K and Chiromo Hospital Group have already begun working in collaboration and started with a training of sports administrators from federations, being trained on safeguarding athletes during the administration courses where mental health issues were addressed.
“Having stayed with athletes in Rift Valley, I know this partnership will help our athletes represent our nation better. We have protective mechanisms before curative mechanisms. Our slogan, recovery with dignity, means we hold our clients and family with high honor, and it’s an honor to join Team Kenya and ensure athletes are taken care of.” The CEO Mr. Vincent Hongo spoke on the stigma and discrimination around mental health issues and having a support system, vital to all athletes and releasing the importance of the mental wellness program.
The entry of Chiromo Health Group is expected to provide sustainable and reliable support to Team Kenya and the sportsmen and women in general for mental health and wellness, which is considered a critical component for a balanced life in and out of play.