Have you seen your country lately? Have you noticed the bleeding? Can you hear the citizen wailing or have the cries become so common that they have become part of your life? Do you see the pain on our faces or hear the bitterness in our voices? Do we matter to you? How long should we wait for change and what’s the price we have to pay for it?
What can a nation do when its citizens cannot access good healthcare? When parents have to helplessly watch the lives of their children slowly fading away? When a hospital – a source of hope – becomes a source of despair and pain? What about the child that has to grow up without the tender care of a mother because she died giving birth in “alternative health institutions” under the arms of an untrained midwife? What becomes of a nation whose hospitals become monuments and historic sites; places where people used to get their loved ones “brought back to life”? Where new members of the family were first introduced to their community as healthy “bouncing babies”?
Is there anything more comforting than the reassuring words of a health worker that “everything will be ok”? To a first time mom, nothing is trivial and doctors understand this. They will gladly reassure the parents that “it’s normal”, “it’s nothing to worry about“ and “It will go away”. Imagine the agony we impose on first time parents when we take away this important channel of support. When our health centers close down for whatever reason.
The Health sector in Kenya is ailing. Hospitals still don’t have the right equipment and are running low on medicines. Doctors are resigning daily and funds to run our public hospitals are no longer a priority. That’s not all, people are going back to alternative methods of treatment because they are affordable and accessible. But these methods are neither safe nor certified and hence further endangering people’s lives. Our health sector is ailing and we need to find its cure fast.
For you and I who may have a medical cover, we are lucky. It is easy for us to trivialize and underestimate the state of public health care in the country. As the cost of living continues to soar, many people in rural areas rarely afford a healthy diet to sustain themselves and their families. Children suffer from malnutrition and so their bodies are not able to fight diseases effectively. Apart from the hunger and its effect (which we should be able mitigate in this time and age) we are also unable to provide adequate health services; a double tragedy.
When a pregnant mother does not have access to prenatal care, we are putting the lives of both the mother and the baby at risk. Hospitals are one of the main centers for fighting deadly diseases such as Malaria and HIV. Already as a country we struggle to provide affordable health services to patients who suffer from terminal illnesses like cancer. Special needs citizens including autistic children and spinal injury victims need specialized facilities; they are yet to be established. Instead, we would rather talk about sitting allowances and tax free perks.
With the current challenges facing the health sector it is evident that as a country we will not meet the Millennium Development Goals on health. Devolution, which on paper and in concept seemed like the appropriate vehicle to aid development in the health sector has become the “choking agent” of this process. Affordable healthcare for all is still a pipe dream… Literally!
Counties administrators seem to operate on peer influence. We do not have established emergency centers in hospitals yet we spend millions in buying and hiring ambulances. What good will an ambulance be to a patient who has a terminal condition? What good will an ambulance be to an accident victim if they are rushed to a hospital without doctors or medicine? Recently a Governor bought a private hospital at KES185M! How many functional dispensaries would that amount of money build around the county?
To a dying patient, all they require is immediate treatment. They don’t care about the politics of how much the government has released or how much the counties governments actually received. They just want to see a doctor who will make them better. That’s all! What will it take for you our leader to realize that the place formerly known as a place of hope is now the place haunted by death?