It looked so laughable when Bomet county governor Isaac Ruto flew to South Africa in November last year to get a bruise on his nose fixed after he was hit by a tear gas canister in a public rally that had turned chaotic.
Kenyans took to social media to mock the governor for flying to SA to treat “tear gas wounds” with the matter making local headlines.
Ruto would two weeks ago, in an interview with Jeff Koinange on his JKL show, “set the record straight” and clarify that the treatment he went to seek in SA was advanced and not just a minor surgery and if it had been done locally, it would have taken longer to heal as local hospitals don’t have the requisite technology for the procedure.
Ruto’s incident captures a culture that has been created by African politicians, who prefer to fly abroad for “specialized treatment” apparently because the local healthcare is “wanting”; this is irrespective of fact that they still have access to the best private medical facilities unlike their electorates, who have to contend with the ailing public health care.
Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari, for instance, is currently in London, after he flew there on Sunday for follow-up tests after receiving medical treatment in Britain two months ago.
Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has also flown to Singapore for a routine “medical checkup”.
Back home, Kenyans would recall how Prof Anyang Nyong’o and Beth Mugo, who were both Ministers for Health in the NARC government at the time, flew abroad for cancer treatment.
Other leaders who have often sought treatment abroad include CORD leader Raila Odinga and retired president Mwai Kibaki just to mention a few.
The late Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua and first lady Lucy Kibaki died while seeking treatment in London.
Perhaps if African leaders were forced to be treated in their own countries the appalling health services faced by most Africans (and who can’t afford private medical care let alone flying abroad for treatment) might improve.