Letter to the President of the Republic of Kenya. RE: Doctors Strike.
Hello Mr. President
I won’t say shame on you because in my thick savannah-toughened blood runs decorum and respect for the elders, even when you don’t agree with them. Just like any other doctor, i am on strike and not amused about how you handling the matter. My million-dollar wish is to see the day where any Kenyan can write to you on; accountability, governance, corruption, national health, national security, unemployment to mention but a few. But that will call for a high literacy level record of the hoi polloi and change of the social class in terms of poverty eradication.
This is what the French call ‘cri de couer’ for the millions of Kenyans like me, who are tired of how healthcare has literally become a forgone rights and how the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of people it was supposed to protect.
Sir, your government is not exceptional if not special when it comes to regimes that bank on the illiteracy and poverty status of its electorates. That is the very reason you will go on a political rally, not coincidentally, on a day the low class Kenyans are dying as the doctors are on strike. It only happens in states like Kenya.
Sir, in the real world, where citizens know their rights, you will be impeached and your record track of good governance will plummet in a record synonymous to Wall-street’s numbers, in times like the great depression. Chew on that.
You are charged with the herculean task of delivering affordable healthcare to each and every Kenyan and it beats me how you can sleep at night. You very well know the importance of healthcare to citizens. The very sleepless night a mother goes through when her child is sick or nursing a condition only treatable in some fancy hospitals abroad.
Kenya has embarked on millennium development goals including eradication of poverty and hunger, primary education for all, gender equality and reduced infant and maternal mortality rate. It’s unfortunate that the projected goals are far from realization and healthcare specifically is for the chosen few and the ever-growing middle class of Kenya. In fact, it’s safe to say the current impasse of healthcare only affects the majority who pay taxes, only to be enjoyed by minority over the very basic rights of access to better healthcare.
Health economics dictates the effectiveness of a country’s health scheme to be pecked on three yardsticks; accessibility, cost and quality. Am afraid, the entire access factor is emasculated by the quality factor in terms of facilities and workforce in our healthcare system.
Kenyans are crippled by preventable diseases. The statistics are shocking. The so-called referral hospitals, which are only three for the 40million Kenyans have ramshackle facilities and painful bureaucracy of service delivery. We are very far from achieving WHO standards for specifically low requirement sub-Sahara Africa.The very strike by doctors and nurses camouflaged the very pictures of the shocking revelations in both Kenya and the mother continent. Africa bears a quarter of the world’s disease burden, 65% of which are communicable diseases. It has only 2% of world’s doctors and contributes 1% of the global health expenditure.
Politicians neither have the incentives nor the information for doctors. It’s sad that with all the advisers from different portfolios you enjoy, one would advise you to stay mum about the country’s healthcare crisis and make a mere parting shot about how doctors can’t bring back the lives of Kenyans who regretfully died as a result of the strike. These are issues that require you to urgently convene a crisis meeting and make an official state address under the glaring of state press. That gives the commoner a value for his vote.
The ministry of health has been plagued by cases of all sorts. From alleged corruption cases, misplaced priorities in terms of its budget and above all not implementing the Collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that it signed with the doctors three years ago. The credibility of its occupants has gone so low and we are very disappointed.
Kenyans have short memory! Mandarins and cold-heart good-for-nothing degenerates squander money every day in your government and you are shocked of the demand by doctors’ pay rise? That’s because we first see doctors’ fault before the government. We vote them in perennially while we know their morality stain. Tribalism literally trumps every virtue in this country. Jobs are no longer given on merits, appointment to offices are not based on competency.
Even with the current pay rise of doctors, the attention will never shift to how the government has failed to provide for a good healthcare for Kenyans.
Dockets like National Health, Security and Infrastructure are not low budget portfolios and rightly so deserves proper funding.
Sir, Implementing the CBA will turn around healthcare in this country. Think of the incentive and the will of work a doctor or a nurse will have in executing his or her duties. Think of the over 3000 Kenyan doctors working abroad as a result of brain-drain after losing hope. Think of the realization of the dream of that high school kid who says, “I want to be a neurosurgeon “and realizes his dream. Think of the incentive related medical research think-tanks and an end to communicable diseases as a result. Above all, think of an end to the politicians including you who brand Kenya as a country with no proper health facilities when they have to fly abroad for minor procedures like hernias not to mention change of Elastoplast by our governor!
Pay the doctors their Money. It’s a bitter truth that its only money that tests the fabrics of ones’ faith in relation to the description of a doctor’s work as a ‘calling’ Kenyans have bought that single story tragedy hook, line and sinker. Doctors too need to eke a living. George Bernard Shaw said: “We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession”.
Adopt a watertight healthcare and health workers’ program. Provide an affordable, accessible and quality healthcare such as health insurance scheme for every citizen that can be enjoyed at the grass root level. Equip our hospitals, and not only in the final year of your term. Tarmac our road networks and let there be a sense of equality and belonging to this country. Secure our borders and beef up our security even if it takes you to build a wall at our border entry points.
The writer is a medical officer
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