Heathcare a right never realised
Healthcare in Kenya-a mirage
Article 43 (1) (a) of the Kenyan Constitution 2010 states that, “Every person has the right—to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care.” But is healthcare really a right in Kenya?
In February 2018, two doctors Prof Stanley Khainga and Dr Nang’ole Wanjala together with another medical team behind them were able to reattach a hand on a boy who had been severed by a chaff cutter. The story threw KNH into busk of glory. The country went into a frenzy.
But there was one important sentence that was printed towards the end of that story in small fond as if it was insignificant. The two good doctors had used private tools to carry out the phenomenal surgery. KNH did not have this tools. Why is it that no one magnified the lack of such important tools at KNH?
Then ICU happened. We watched in utter dismay as a lady narrated how her mother died because she did not access to much needed medical attention at KNH. We blamed doctors at KNH, but how many functional ICU beds are there at KNH? Are we waiting for another ‘Facebook live’ or we are comfortable with the loss of life?
This week has been no different, we have been treated to the sad drama of ‘Sonko live’ at Pumwani. While we do not want to politick and laugh at the good governor for whistleblowing himself, it is important to ask ourselves; why do politicians go to high end private hospitals in Kenya or fly out to Europe for treatment in public hospitals there and not the Pumwani’s of Kenya?
Lack of political goodwill
Senator Beth Mugo, President Mwai Kibaki, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Senator Mutula Jnr’s wife etc. Cases In China, MOH are paid the same salary as garbage collectors. Many of them quit because of frustration. But in there lies a threat to life, pharmaceutical companies approach the frustrated doctors and ask them to act a sales officers. They then tend to prescribe drugs patients do not need. Kenya has been no different in the recent past, stories of doctors sending patients that do not even have cancer, for cancer treatment in India.
In exchange these doctors receive, ‘retainer or commission’. Are you angry with doctors now? Doctors in Kenya go for months without salaries, they are understaffed, they are threatened by people who know nothing about medicine like governor Sonko, they are blamed for sins they did not commit. Doctors at Pumwani did not ‘eat’ the money meant to construct a morgue at the facility. No one was arrested, prosecuted or even questioned concerning the misappropriation but today we blame those who put themselves in danger to serve.
Frustration drains employees and doctors are no exception. Now, UK has the best healthcare system in the World. In 2016, the country allocated 9.8% of gross domestic production to healthcare (that translates to £191.7 billion).UK had a population of about 65 million people at the time. Kenya has a population of about 40 million people and allocated Shs. 54.9 billion to healthcare in the 2016/2017 budget.
So when our leaders like Hon. Johnson Sakaja, Mutula Kilonzo Junior and Kipchumba Murkomen talk about the rights that Kenyans ought to enjoy in healthcare, we agree with them but on which budget? How much do we need to put up a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with at least 50 beds in our county hospitals? These questions deserve answers from the legislature.
The Healthcare system has been captured by people who want to mint millions from Kenyans. They loot money allocated to public healthcare through tenderprenuers. The Afya House scandal is just a gravel of this mountain called corruption at MOH.
Exit corruption, poor working conditions, under-staffing, small budgetary allocations and bureaucracy then enters free market and payment. When Kenyans who can afford or are covered by their employers visit private hospitals for better services, they are compelled to pay through the nose. Imagine your friend or family member is sick and in a bad shape, they need emergency healthcare. So you take a cab, rush them to a good hospital closer to you.
Poor patient management
They usher you in and the nurse directs you to the accounts office. The accountant asks you to deposit Kshs. 100,000 before they attend to your patient. You have no money, so you quote Article 43 of the constitution. They are adamant. They tell you Kenya is a free market and you can seek services elsewhere. Your friend dies or is permanently impaired. Would feel the right meant anything? Private Hospitals are into business.
They buy space, doctors, nurses, drugs, machines and equipment to provide these services. NO money No product! They sell services to patients and in turn make profits. But compared to our socialist healthcare system, they offer better services. Doctors listen to you more, nurses are there to nurse you and not shout imprintables.
But, There is major problem with the private system especially in healthcare. Anytime basic human needs are made commodities, it inevitably translates the moral sphere into a financial sphere. People care more about how much they make and not how many lives they save. Apart from Healthcare, does that explain why people sell contaminated sugar even when they know it is dangerous to consumers? By commercializing healthcare in Kenya (as is the rest of the world), we have lost meaning of medicine and treatment, it is now money making!
So if Healthcare, like any other good or service is governed by economics can we call it a right? Is it a right for any of us to buy a car? Can we ask the government to offer us one? Because you only get the best when you can pay more. You are either dying in patience at Pumwani on the queue or quickly attended to at Nairobi Hospital. Is the government ready to admit that it cannot provide good healthcare services to its citizenry?
Kenyans must have this debate; is healthcare a right or a commodity? We must be honest with ourselves to make the right strides towards cleaning and improving the healthcare system. Are we willing to downsize our legislature and give the saved funds to the ministry of Health? We must get our priorities right. There is need for brainstorming instead of blame-storming. We do not need ‘Sonko lives’ but technocrat and stakeholder solutions. But till then, healthcare is NOT a RIGHT in Kenya.
Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001296466/heathcare-a-right-never-realised