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Kenya's healthcare system is in ICU

 Engineer Shammah Kiteme. [Courtesy]

Recently, the government took a few steps that left us with the impression that it appreciates the state of healthcare in the country.

This includes the President assenting to several instruments recently. 

However, the sector is still comatose and this is what we must do.

First, we must provide care to patients through facilities that are well-positioned close to them. We must take care of the population; not wait for patients to come to the hospital very sick.

We must strengthen community health through mobile hospitals and well-functioning community health centres.

Secondly, we must equip hospitals with supplies. Today, you will not be attended to in public healthcare institutions until you buy simple things like gloves, syringes etc.

This is truly sad.

What’s the role of the Ministry of Health as things degenerate into these deplorable conditions?

KEMSA scandals or not, the medical supply chain system must be fixed. Level 4 hospitals are sending patients to nearby radiologists and labs for tests. They don’t have the equipment or reagents to run their own.

Thirdly, we must fix the personnel problem. The story of coming to the hospital and being sent away because there is no doctor is quite depressing. It portrays a total breakdown of the system.

This is as bad as it can get. Bluntly speaking we have buildings supposed to be hospitals but they are not. Whatever they are we can define them.

Lastly, we must guarantee every citizen good care. See, we have a country of inequalities. The upper class and the middle class can live in complete oblivion of the deplorable conditions of the hoi polloi yet a society is as good as it is capable of caring for its most vulnerable members.

The disease burden in this country is a collective stain for all of us, especially the elites. These are the folks who can think and figure out a way out of the current predicament.

Now my friend tells me that health and poverty are intertwined. That the middle-class population is a sickness away from poverty.

What this means is that you may be a comfortable middle-class folk until sickness strikes. You’re done. That’s true. We should solve this mess because we are never too far from this.

- The author is a practising civil structural engineer based in Nairobi

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