The Peremende Movement for Health Reforms in Kenya came into being a week ago following a patronising statement made last week by Anyang Nyong’o, Kenya’s Minister for Medical Services, subsequent to the countrywide doctors’ strike early this month. What began as a sarcastic joke by Nyong’o has since become a powerful movement that is spreading like a bush fire through the social media.
At the time the Minister compared the striking doctors to ‘sulking children’ and posed the question of whether the country would rather use money for development programmes, or give it like “peremende” (the Swahili word for candy) to sulking children.
Of course the doctors did not take the utterance lightly and what followed was the dawn of a powerful movement that is exposing the rot in Kenya’s health sector.
THE ROT IN KENYA’S HEALTH SECTOR
Health is a fundamental human right guaranteed in the new Constitution but sadly only half of Kenyans have access to health facilities in the country.
It is alleged that more than 80 per cent of the existing hospitals in Kenya are poorly staffed, badly equipped and have insufficient infrastructure in relation to current norms and standards. For example, Kenya has 16 doctors and 153 nurses per 100,000 of the population. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended minimum staffing levels are 100 doctors and 356 nurses per 100,000 population.
Of the health staff referred to above, only a third is in the public service and whilst a good number of dispensaries have been upgraded to hospitals the staffing, equipment and infrastructure have remained the same.
AGING MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
Most of the medical equipment s in the public health facilities are said to be beyond their lifespan. Kenya for instance has only one radiotherapy machine which is a 1970’s model. According to medical practitioners the machine is prone to frequent breakdowns posing enormous risks to patients, among them being the risk of exposing them to excessive radiation.
Much worse, recent studies reveal that up to 30 per cent of medicines in Kenya are counterfeit, potentially putting the health of Kenyans at even greater risk.
PEREMENDE MOVEMENT’S SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
The ‘Peremende Movement’ has embarked on a massive campaign particularly via social media, calling on Kenyans to sign a petition that will bring reforms in the country’s health sector.
A statement making the rounds on Facebook from the movement’s page reads;
“We invite the public to read doctors stories and find out what is really going on in public health facilities in Kenya. Share them widely. It is tragic that the rot in the Kenyan health sector has gone on for so long, but the most tragic thing would be to remain silent. We will be posting many similar stories on the page. SHARE them with your friends. Ask your FRIENDS to share them with THEIR friends. Join Kenyan doctors in fighting for health reform in Kenya today. #peremendemovement”
IMPLEMENTING THE MUSYIMI TASK FORCE REPORT
The health sector in Kenya is without a doubt ailing and the Peremende Movement For Health Reforms In Kenya believes that by signing this petition, you are (as a Kenyan) demanding that all Presidential Candidates, Governors, Senators and Members of Parliament should sign a Memorandum of Agreement to implement in its entirety the The Musyimi Task Force Report of 2011 to Reform the Kenyan Health Sector. The Musyimi Task Force was appointed In December 2011, to address Health Sector issues raised by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU).
The joke has been on Minister Nyong’o following the ‘peremende’ statement but he can take comfort in the thought that thanks to his rather uncalled-for remark a movement has been born that might yet save Kenya’s health sector from its many and current ailments.