President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to address the nation today on the current containment measures in the fight against coronavirus.
This comes amid reports that Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in our hospitals could be fully occupied and that some cases needing these services are being turned away. This demonstrates the distress the healthcare system has been pushed to, a serious indictment to the political class.
Close to 60 years after independence, Kenyans have been promised by successive regimes that healthcare will be better. Covid-19 seems to have exposed this lie.
While big money projects have been initiated in the health sector, there is a gap between these and trickle-down effects. The sector has also witnessed massive loss of public resources through corrupt deals. If the amount of money pumped into the healthcare system annually was prudently used, we could have a sparkling sector able to treat all conditions for all Kenyans.
When Covid-19 struck, most Kenyans hoped that, apart from its negative effects, it could provide a silver lining for the improvement of the health sector. With no international travel, which means leaders have had to seek health services locally, there was hope that finally, the sector could be improved. However, the chance could be slowly slipping away as coronavirus runs roughshod over the country.
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Politicians have gone back to the demagoguery they know best and once again the message is clear that Kenyans are on their own. Just like the health function – and corruption – empty talk has been devolved to the counties to keep the streets drumming over an election two years away, completely forgetting the danger we are in.
Something must be done urgently. The Government must ensure that investment in healthcare is not just about physical infrastructure, but also qualified human resource.
Overstretched, health workers are speaking in hushed tones and wondering why more staff cannot be engaged. They also wonder why it is so difficult to make the public health sector work. The moment of reckoning is here and deliberate actions must be taken. The Government should see the danger citizens face. Lives lost, whether from health conditions or lost livelihoods, cannot be recovered.
The time to act is now in both levels of government; this is the time to fix Kenya’s ailing healthcare system.