President Uhuru Kenyatta on 6th of July 2021 launched five new Hospitals in the capital Nairobi which will offer 24 hour services to Residents.
The new Health medical facilities are part of the 24 such Hospitals which are being built by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) led by the Director General Mohammed Badi as part of a broad government plan to try and decongest the Kenyatta National Hospital, Pumwani, Mbagathi and Mama Lucy hospitals which are deemed to be overstretched.
The Hospitals which were launched by the Head of state in the night operation were two level 2 Hospitals at Gichagi in Kangemi and Gatina in Kawangware and as well as level 3 Hospitals in Mukuru kwa Rueben, Tassia kwa Ndege and our lady of Nazareth in Mukuru kwa Njenga.
Let’s not forget that in February 2021, the President also opened the Soweto level 2 hospital and two other medical centers in Kiamaiko and Uthiru.
And even as we congratulate the Head of state for such a noble initiative, we as the People need not stop shying away from criticizing the government for taking such a long time since Kenya gained independence to come up with such an initiative.
You see, the right to health care is a fundamental human right guaranteed in the constitution of Kenya. And article 43(1) of the constitution provided that every Person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including Reproductive health care. And although the constitution states this, a large number of Kenyans still can’t access quality health care; this being blamed on the few, overstretched, poorly maintained public hospitals in the country, most of which do not even have the right medical equipment and medication.
During the launch of the Hospitals in the city, which I am told are supposed to offer a 24 hour service to residents, the Head of state said that they as government in collaboration with the Nairobi Metropolitan service NMS, discovered that Nairobi hospitals open at 8 am and close at 6pm, locking out many people who get sick at night and who sometimes force themselves to Kenyatta National Hospital.
“We discovered that Nairobi hospitals open at 8am and were closing at 6pm meaning that if somebody got sick or was in need of medical attention after 6pm the only medical facility they could access was Kenyatta National Hospital,” he said.
He also equated this to the residents living in informal settlements in Nairobi….I mean how ironic? After 9 years in power is when you found out this Mr. President?
Nairobi County has a population of approximately 5 million people 4397,073 to be precise, according to the 2019 census, with a projection of about 2.5 million slum dwellers in about 200 settlements in Nairobi. With such a figure definitely a working health care system is paramount.
Let this good initiative not start and end in Nairobi alone, but be replicated in other counties especially those that are experiencing an influx of rural urban migration.
Engaging a number of Nairobians just days after the launch of the Hospitals by the Head of state, I could see both excitement and anger in them at the same time, anger in terms of Kenyans being let down by the government for so long in terms health care and Jubilation and sigh of relief that finally they will no longer trek long hours to Kenyatta national hospital or even Mbagathi Hospital in times of emergency.
“I thank President Uhuru Kenyatta for launching these hospitals, it’s been long, we have waited and waited, For pregnant women like me in this area we are forced to visit far away health centers because we lacked a government hospital, finally it has come to pass” Eunice Kanini from Mukuru said.
“Although I am pleased for the launch, the government still has been lagging behind in matters healthcare, in fact I am not sure if these hospitals will function properly, most of the public hospitals lack drugs” she added.
Frequent strikes in the health sector in the country have also played a big role in the deterioration of services and operationalization of the health facilities. Doctors, Nurses, and all the Health care workers in general have been demanding better working conditions, good pay among other demands.
In December 21 2020, Doctors in the country joined clinical officers and nurses in a nationwide strike, this is after talks with the government regarding pay and Corona virus protective gear broke down.
“Doctors across the country today can no longer wait, we will not engage in hazardous and dangerous work environment” former Kenya Medical practitioners’ Pharmacist and Dentist union KMPDU secretary general Chibanzi Mwachobda said.
It’s long overdue to improve our healthcare system in the country, it’s now or never!
By Wema Toywa [Wemas’ Take]