I choose to remain optimistic when it comes to the progress made in healthcare provision in this country since 2003.
I have a colleague whose rural home is in Marsabit. He tells me there have been at least three health centres that have been constructed within the vicinity of this home in the past few years. And it’s not just empty buildings; there are nurses and medicines to complement it all.
Let us roll back to the 2009 budget speech….
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta told us that the government took cognisance of the fact that building a better Kenya required a healthy population.
He further told us that the government planned to provide an efficient health infrastructure covering all parts of our country, and raise the quality of health care for its citizens. “In this regard, we are initiating a comprehensive program of healthcare reforms covering infrastructure development, promotion of preventive healthcare and devolved management of facilities,” he said.
He disclosed that in addition to direct funding to the ministries of Public Health and Medical Services, he would allocate Sh4 billion (or Sh20 million per constituency) under the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation for the construction and equipping of a health centre in every constituency.
He said this was the first step in a three-year journey towards achieving a countrywide healthcare facility upgrade programme.
“Mr Speaker, as a government that cares and listens to its people, we are going a step further, consistent with our policy to promote preventive healthcare, to employ on contract terms and at the local level, additional 4,200 nurses or 20 nurses per constituency countrywide. To this end, I have allocated a total of Sh655 million, which translates to Sh3.1 million for each constituency.”
I think we need to give credit where it is due. It is measures like these that give me buoyancy that the government is on the right path to ensuring there is access to medicare for its citizens.
We certainly have a long way to go when it comes to quality healthcare provision, but great strides have been made since the Nyayo days.
I spent some time in the UK studying over a year ago and dreaded ever getting sick. You might wonder why yet you expect them to have the best medicare one would desire. The reason is that if you walked into a health facility to seek treatment for an ailment, you would be asked to book an appointment possibly five days away!
l came to learn that unless you were wheeled into the hospital in an ambulance, your case was never considered urgent to warrant instant medicare.
This reminds me of the spectacle of the cough syrups. A lot of ailments that compel us to seek medical treatment can easily be treated at home.
Is it possible we have overburdened our medical system with ailments we can cure at home? Your guess is as good as mine.