The health workers in Kenya have the answer to the question of public health. They have had these solutions for the past 50 years .The generations that came before us were as passionate as the current one on matters public health.
However every time we articulate these solutions, we are dismissed. We are told to go back to the wards and treat. We are told that we have no business in management. We are harshly silenced. The result is that since 1965, virtually anybody and everybody has been at the apex of the health ministry except the health expert.
In the end the health system in Kenya has been run on trial and error for the past 50 years.
When Kenyans sit back in the evening to watch the horrors unfolding in the corridors of a national referral hospital, they are staring at the accumulation of errors of management and government neglect over the past 50 years.
I hope that after the airing of the ‘rufaa mahututi’(a critically ill referral system) on K24, no hypocrite will rush to KNH to look for scapegoats in the hapless KNH casualty workers for cheap PR reasons.The scenes aired in that feature have nothing to do with the ineptitude of the worker but everything to do with chronic miscalculations and systemic failures.
KNH is only an embodiment of a dysfunctional health system that was left behind five decades back. The hospital itself is performing the functions of 47 referral hospitals.The poor Kenyans who come to the public hospitals for treatment are what Alex La Guma in his short story, ‘out of darkness’ refers to as the ‘wreckage which mankind left behind in its onward march’. This is the guilt of the whole nation and crucifying the health worker will never wash away the sins of the health care system.
In fact, all health workers still working for government deserve the highest medal of honour in Kenya ,perhaps EBS, for their patriotic service. The most sensible of us resigned many years back and fled into exile in various countries around the globe. Others are in private practice and NGOs.
The few health workers remaining in the system are only doing so in the stretched hope that somehow things might change someday. That somebody with the goodwill and the expertise will come a long and fix the system. The longer the wait, the more health experts throw in the towel.
We the health workers have the solutions to the ailing system and have known all along how to make it work. We can in a few years fix the mess and save Kenyans from this hell-on-earth that public health has been all these years.
However our solutions like the proverbial ‘stone that builders rejected’ have been ignored in preference to the incantations of what a young kenyan doctor – Paul Bundi calls ‘charlatans’.
There can never be a better time for the whole nation to embrace a change of heart and join the health experts in their quest to reclaim the health sector. Kenyan citizens should not be quick to accept mediocrity but must challenge leadership.
Kenyans, drop that gullible demeanor and ask your leaders why they do not bring their family members to be treated in public hospitals as a sign of patriotism and faith in the public health system.
The celebrated Kenyan master playwright the late Francis Imbuga in his book ‘betrayal in the city’ once said and I quote ‘When the madness of an entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, its not enough to say the man is mad’.