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Rejoice for lucky father; spare a thought for millions others

By The Standard | February 21st 2019 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

The case of a father who for lack of money took a risk and sneaked his one-month-old baby out of Kenyatta National Hospital touched many hearts.

His brush with the law- those who sneak out patients commit a felony - has become a blessing in disguise. There has been an outpouring of pledges including a job offer for the jobless 25-year-old. His wife too, has no job.

It was quite ironical that that happened a day or so before President Uhuru Kenyatta launched Universal Health Care in Kisii County – part of the legacy Big 4 agenda- whose aim is to make healthcare affordable and accessible. Hopefully, President Kenyatta’s efforts pay off.

In truth, the case of Boniface Murage is not unique. Far too many poor Kenyans face a similar predicament day-in-day-out. A lot of them suffer in silence. Those lucky like Mr Murage to get media attention are few. The rest just wallow in their misery. A lot of them cannot access pain-relieving or life-saving medicine. They are out of their reach.

Governments the world over exist to make the lives of its people better. But here we were witnessing a government failing the most vulnerable of its citizens. Officials from the Ministry of Health simply saw nothing and heard nothing. Perhaps like the rest of Kenyans, they too were shocked.

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And not just in healthcare do we witness such a laissez-faire attitude. It is as true of security as it is of such services as education, water and transport. It is because of its failure that the private healthcare provision is thriving. Most of the public hospitals are rundown and lack even the most basic infrastructure and equipment. Yet each year, millions- perhaps billions- are pumped into these facilities with no visible improvement. The long queues are still there the drugs will go missing and the doctors and nurses will do less for a more pay.

The shambolic health care services are just a microcosm of a bigger problem. For example, those who wish to give their children the best education, enroll them in private schools. It will cost an arm and a leg, but it is better than schooling in a public school.

It is a shame that even government officials (who should work better) will be found jostling for slots in private schools; for peace of mind, most of the tax-paying lot will hire a private guard to secure their homes; for a reliable supply of water, many will drill boreholes.

The likes of Mr Murage are left to their own devices to fend for themselves, pay for medical care and to educate their children and plan for their old age. It is not easy.

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