One look at the public hospitals in Nairobi and their environs will leave any person in their right mind dreading to fall ill. Every cloud has a silver lining though, for some at least, and the current state of affairs has definitely seen the mushrooming of private hospitals. Unfortunately only a minority of the country’s population can afford treatment at the latter. For the majority, the only option is to pray and fast for a healthy life.
According to a research conducted by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC), the provincial and district hospitals are in a pathetic condition, characterized by shortages of staff, corruption and poor facilities.
Apparently patients have been forced to share beds in some of these hospitals, others have been turned away when they cannot afford the fees, and yet others have been forced to buy syringes and drugs from private pharmacies in order to get treatment in public hospitals.
KACC also announced that some government hospitals were dispensing expired drugs to patients. This ‘suicidal’ problem, which has been accredited to the supply of drugs with a short shelf life, draws attention to the service delivery systems as well as policies and procedures of public hospitals in the country. Drugs meant for public hospitals end up being stolen, while some end up in local markets, others find way in regional markets. Drugs destined for Kenya from donors have on occasions landed in Uganda.
Meanwhile a crippling drug shortage is being experienced in public health facilities posing another life threatening challenge that patients seeking medical help in government hospitals have to face. According to The Kenya Health Sector Integrity Study Report, 2011, malarial drugs, re-hydration salts, anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and antibiotics are some of the drugs that are in short supply in the institutions.
Malaria is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Kenya while HIV/Aids is one of the biggest epidemics we face as a country. To experience a shortage on such essential drugs is a disaster in waiting. Nurses and other medical personnel have been accused of hoarding drugs and supplying them to private pharmacies, a practice that has been cited as a key contributor to the shortage of drugs.
Fear not however, our MPs are addressing the problem; they have passed a motion to waive mortuary fees for dead bodies collected within 21 days.
There’s Tender Loving Care for you from our legislators and in an odd way a certain sort of logic. Life may be cheap as they say but maintaining life can be expensive, so let’s make death cheaper to compensate.