For the past one hundred and twenty four days, public hospitals have been non-operational owing to the nurses’ strike. For one hundred and twenty four days, Kenyans have had to seek for alternative ways of keeping their sick alive as they wait for the government, ‘their government’, to do something.
The national government has been quoted on several occasions saying healthcare is a devolved function, in other words, the nurses’ strike is the headache of county governments. Meanwhile, the very national government that has exonerated itself from matters nurses’ strike is hopping from one county to another bragging about ninety four referral hospitals it has ‘opened’, MRI machines it has bought and installed across counties, numberless C-ARMS, dialysis machines bought and installed and blah blah blah. That the deputy president had the audacity of standing before the people and God in Vihiga County and mention machines and referral hospitals on the 4th/10/2017 in the midst of the longest nurses’ strike is plain sad. That two or three people clapped for him says a thing or two about us.
For a hospital to run, doctors, nurses, cleaners, lab technologists, porters, security personnel, sonographers, clinical officers, et cetera are needed. If hospital cleaners went on strike for an hour, hospital operations will grind to a halt. Same applies to cooks, lab techs, doctors and nurses. Nurses are a vital part of the healthcare system. This part has been missing for the past four months.
In the four months that nurses’ have been out of hospital, too much damage has happened. Too much that can not be undone. There are women who have died while giving birth; there are those who have lost their un-born children. HIV positive mothers have remained uncared for through-out pregnancy, some have had to give birth at home hence exposing their babies to HIV. Children born months before and those born during this strike are missing their immunizations and this will haunt us in the future.
Patients who were waiting in line to have operations are dying without ever stepping in theatre and this is after selling plots for theatre fees. Patients needing dialysis have had to do without dialysis for as long as their bodies can, they have changed their dialysis needs from twice a week to intermittently because that is what they can afford with the rates charged in the private hospitals. Cancers are progressing, cancer patients are making do without their morphine because palliation centers have been closed.
The old men have had to live with infected urinary catheters. Hypertensive patients have had to post-pone their check-ups. Diabetics have resorted to alternative medicine and prayers and hope. Meanwhile, their kidneys are getting damaged; blinding cataracts are slowly but surely growing in their eyes. Killer clots are developing in their arteries.
Too much damage is happening. But sadly, life is going on even as our children die of simple diarrhea and vomiting, pneumonia and malaria.
We have been so busy politicking that we have forgotten we have no place to take our sick, our injured. The media has been so busy with one political headline after another; it has no time for stale news about the health of the bottom class.
The opposition is so keen on getting into power it won’t talk on behalf of their poor supporters! We are busy feeling sorry for Uganda we have forgotten that we have no healthcare in our own country! Meanwhile, we are busy ‘advising’ women and girls to go for breast cancer screening because that is what the whole world is doing. We seem to be forgetting that we practicallyhave no hospitals at the moment!