By Gitungo Wamere
Kenyans deserve better, from our healthcare, education and infrastructure. This is the feeling that one gets whenever they go to a public facility to be served. Every year, public funds are channeled to improve service delivery and the lives of Kenyans, but it seems the more funds are allocated, the more public services deteriorate. Increasingly, public facilities are becoming a perfect representation of mediocrity and this has forced more Kenyans to prefer private facilities which they can ill afford.
For example, let us focus on the healthcare sector.
It is only last week that we heard that a surgery was conducted on the wrong patient in the largest public referral hospital in Kenya. The ills in Kenyatta hospital that are highlighted daily are just a tip of the iceberg. Kenyatta hospital personifies the collapsed healthcare in Kenya. Getting sick in Kenya is synonymous to a death warrant.
Our healthcare is on its deathbed, if not collapsed; countless problems from a disgruntled human resource to the dilapidated physical facilities can explain this assertion. Across the country, Kenyans complain about the poor services that they get in public hospitals. For instance, nowadays it isn’t guaranteed that our mothers will deliver safely in public hospitals. Kenyans have resulted to airing their grievances on social media, because we even lack feedback systems where patients can channel their complaints or even compliments. Public hospitals have turned into some sort of organized anarchy.
On a Facebook page, by the name “United States of Kiambu”, a woman narrates an alleged ordeal in Kiambu Level 5 hospital when her sister was giving birth. The woman goes ahead to allege that four babies lost their lives from Friday evening to Saturday morning last week, due to negligence.
In this particular hospital, there has been a litany of allegations of misconduct, it is even alleged that staff in this hospital go the extent of asking for bribes to treat patients. To be served well isn’t guaranteed. Yet we are still talking of universal healthcare while we cannot offer basics. It won’t be a surprise if this situation is replicated in most of the public hospitals across the country. Most of these problems continue unnoticed because people who make are responsible for these hospitals do not use them. Public hospitals are left to the poor in the society and it seems that it is well if they suffer.
Our constitution, on the bill of rights – article 43(1) (a) accords all Kenyans the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care. Why then should Kenyans get only mediocre service yet their taxes pay for better services? In the last budget, healthcare services got an allocation of 60.9 billion, more money than in the previous budget, but did the situation in the sector get better?
Good health is wealth; there is a correlation between good health and wealth. Healthy people are definitely more productive. Kenyans waste too much time and resources when their loved ones get sick. Nowadays, it is normal to have Kenyans migrating from Kenya to other countries especially India to seek world class medical care. We don’t trust our facilities and neither do we trust our doctors.
As the government promises Kenyans of a universal healthcare, it is incumbent if they do an audit of where we are at the moment and identify the gaps in our system. Kenyans does not need facilities alone but also a workforce that is ready to serve. There is also a need of making sure that all Kenyans employed or not have a stable medical cover. In the meantime, Kenyans should point out mediocrity by demanding for better health facilities and services. In counties, Kenyans can petition their county governments through their Members of County Assembly. At the National level, this can be demanded through Parliament.