By KENFREY KIBERENGE
Ruth Manoti is fighting a life-threatening disease at the Kenyatta National Hospital. She has two options: To undergo a procedure locally and extend her life for up to 10 years or to fly to India to get corrective surgery that could heal her.
In what is the latest indictment of Kenyaâs medicare, Ms Manoti has been told she can only get treated if she travels abroad.
Manotiâs family is working to raise Sh1.5 million to save her life with two risky procedures â one to treat a deadly rheumatic heart disease (damaged valves), and another to remove fibroids, which will all have to be done at a hospital in India.
The family says doctors at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), which boasts as the largest referral hospital in East and Central Africa, told them that a heart operation is possible locally, but would only act as a stopgap measure, lasting 10 years.
"They said they could only insert âsome balloonâ, which is a temporary measure, but the operation in India is permanent. South Africa, too, offers similar services like Indiaâs, but itâs much more expensive there," said Charles Rasugu, Manotiâs uncle.
Manoti, 32, who lost her mother at birth, was last week rushed to KNH after suffering from pneumonia, an ailment that can be fatal if not managed well in its early stages.
The total cost for travel, treatment, and accommodation in an Indian hospital is Sh1.5 million, while in South Africa they would have been forced to pay Sh2.1 million. "Here in Kenya, despite its transient nature, the operation would cost Sh900,000,"Rasugu said.
Ngilu at KNH
Every year, innumerable Kenyans are forced into medical tourism â travelling abroad to seek proper and cheaper medical attention â as local medical providers are either wanting or beyond their reach. Several firms are also making a killing out of linking suffering families with doctors in the Asian country.
But there is now light at the end of the tunnel after the High Court allowed the Government to increase the levies to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), in a new scheme that will see improved and broader medical services provided to Kenyans.
Kenyan hospitals were given a vote of confidence in September 2005, when Water Minister Charity Ngilu was admitted to KNH.
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