Got money to treat that cough?

The following takes place between 0100hrs to 0100hrs; if symptoms persist seek medical advice! That is a sentence that everyone is familiar with in this country even without watching the advertisements on television or listening to them on radio.

Why? Health care is way too expensive and even as you go to the chemist or provision store to buy Panadol for that nagging headache or Calpol to reduce baby’s temperature, you mutter a silent prayer that those tablets/syrup will make everything ok.

Woe unto you if you discover that you need to look for about Sh3,000 because the headache will not go and a cough will now develop, and if baby’s fever is getting worse you must search for at least double that amount.

I have heard enough horror stories about how people are treated in hospitals and how several are misdiagnosed, and end up spending hundreds of thousands of shillings to treat even minor sicknesses that ail them. All this after they treat themselves of course.

A friend of mine was leaving her house a few days ago when she heard her house-help scream. The lady had accidentally fallen and her wrist began to swell as they both watched. She rushed her housekeeper to the nearest hospital and in a matter of minutes was slapped with a bill of Sh20,000 – and counting. Doctors informed her of the constant treatment necessary for that broken wrist; so my friend knew that the bill would keep swelling until the wrist stopped.

In yet another incident, another friend rushed her younger brother to hospital for a minor operation. The procedure plus room would cost her about Sh80,000 (mostly doctors’ fees) but there would be at least Sh25,000 in ‘extra’ costs. A majority of these were for latex gloves that were used by the doctors and the nurses.

If you do not have health insurance, I shudder to think how you will survive, especially as you juggle how to stay above the recession.

Healthcare is obscenely expensive in this country, and I wonder if it is necessary that it be so costly. Human life is indeed the most precious thing in the world, and what’s the use of having a body that doesn’t work well?

I feel healthcare providers should lower their costs (somehow) and the government should subsidise the same in its bid to provide for its people. All these health short-cuts that we Kenyans adopt are killing more people than they heal.

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