Monday, February 13, 2017

Kenya's Medical Crisis

In Kenya, the doctors working at 47 public hospitals are now entering their third month of being on strike.  Private hospitals have been overrun with patients, but many cannot afford to go to private hospitals, as fees need to be paid before service is given.  People are dying of preventable, treatable sicknesses. Nurses have been forced to do procedures that they have not had training for, being put in situations well beyond their qualifications.  And recently, the nurses decided to join the strike, making a bad situation even worse.
Picture from Al Jazeera

Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans are suffering because of this strike.  There has not been a death count released because of this strike, but people estimate that it is in the thousands.

So what is going on?

To understand, we have to go back to 2013, when the government agreed to raise the salary of doctors from $14,800 annually to $37,700.  They also agreed to hire new doctors to cover the significant shortage of doctors for the population, deal with equipment shortages, and other provisions.  To date, four years later, officials haven't even begun to implement this agreement.  And this is by a government that is the second highest paid in the world, earning between $5,000-20,000 per month, with multiple pay increases since 2013. Additionally, an internal audit recently reported that of the $4.4 billion dollars that went missing last year from the national coffers, $53 million was from the Kenya Ministry of Health.  And that was just for 2015.
Picture from Al Jazeera

The average Kenyan citizen is suffering.  But what the doctors are doing is understandable.   And oh so difficult.

I held myself back on exclamation marks in writing this, but it well could have been peppered with them.  It is heartbreaking to read the stories of people dying outside of hospitals, of nurses watching patients die, of doctors who long to serve and do what they have been called to do but wanting justice by the government for the sake of the citizens.  The World Health Organization recommends one doctor per 600 citizens - Kenya has one doctor per 4500 citizens.

Jesus tells us in the book of John that we will see trials and sorrows on this earth, and we do see so very many.  Creation is indeed groaning.  I don't know if it is groaning more than previous centuries - I think each generation has its own unique challenges.  But as comparison is not helpful, all we can do is pray for the challenges before us today.  I know there are so many around the world.  But I ask you to join me in prayer for this situation in Kenya - for the government, the arbitrators, the doctors, and the sick.

How we need the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come. 

2 comments:

Edwards Omung'ala said...

I agree with you to the point on this.
Things are worse on the ground than the government and media May wish to portray.
The doctors' strike coincided with the draught that is ravaging hundreds not mentioning the increasing road carnage with casualties succumbing to their injuries.
My wife is a medical in a private facility in kakamega. Over the weekend she was the only one on duty in her department. I have seen her come home in the last three weeks and I felt like I am staying with a stranger. She is always tired, withdrawn and deep in thoughts. I have chosen to stay close to her in the hospital as an inspiration and guess what? Two days alone and I almost got admitted. Today is the 8 th day and I am still under medication.

Elly Kisala said...

Yesterday, the 14th of Feb, 2017 I had a lady from my church attend a Sunday school teachers' training at ATS-Kitale Kenya. This lady came with her son who is 7 month old. At about 3 pm we realized that her son was sick with very high fever. All the hospitals around had closed up, we managed to get one private medical laboratory that was working and we just decided to test for malaria and it turned out to be positive. We had to buy malaria drugs across the counter without doctor's prescription. The lady spent the night in my house for her to continue with training (My wife and I live Close to ATS-the training venue). All the night, this 7 months old boy did not slept, many times, he could cry until morning.

Friends, lets continue to pray for our country, the situation is bad, the private hospitals have now closed down from this morning for 48 hours in solidarity with the jailed docs. Even the largest private hospital in the city (Nairobi Hospital has closed). You know how dangerous it can be to take medicine without prescription! Many people are now buying drugs from pharmacists without prescriptions. May God come for us.