“What are the challenges you face while in mashinani (village)?”
Immediately after my question it was evident that there was a lot of pent up frustration from daktari. For years now, our doctors in the public sector have tried suggesting ways that would possibly improve our medical systems yet the outcry is never heard. The line between private and public health is unbelievably wide. Despite cases such as negligence that some private hospitals are known for, it is a rare thing to hear about machines that are not functioning or money disappearing in the middle of a project. But this in mashinani and it is a common setback.
For obvious reasons daktari did not want his name mentioned and also the county that he works for will not be mentioned either. Nevertheless, the problems he mentioned are problems that Kenyan doctors in the public sector face more often than not.
“So what kind of problems are you talking about?” I asked.
In his opinion he believes that if a problem is to be fixed one must acknowledge there is a problem. The lists of endless issues that they are facing were told as follows. To start with the pediatric ward where the children are malnourished because they currently have no food for them; I wondered how children would get better if they did not have a proper diet. For any patient to be stitched a surgeon would need sutures, but this was not the case in the maternity theatre. It becomes clear why dakitari is frustrated by the county government. I ask where their money went and he states that as most of our county governments do, they must have misappropriated it.
Every day a new problem arises in the hospital making it dreadful to work there. A doctor’s aim is to ensure that you are in good health and by the time you leave the hospital you’re okay. But like in any career, when the resources are unavailable if becomes tiresome. If you need an ultrasound apologies to you, because the level 5 hospital lacks x-ray film; it makes no sense how a government hospital could stoop so low yet they are the backbone of almost every county in Kenya.
Every unit in the hospital is struggling. If this struggle continues the doctors, nurses and their staff stop being motivated. As each day passes, a sense of hopelessness becomes apparent for both the doctors and the patients. The doctors try hard to work with what they have but how long can they possibly keep on going with on with no equipment or supplies? The struggle does not stop there, the CT scans do not have films and the hospital lab has not been conducting basic investigations. With most equipment there is, it seems that there is something missing that the machine needs. It is even more unfortunate because the patients that go to these hospitals to receive treatment are financially challenged. They do not have the option of going to private hospitals. Their only health options are public hospitals which at times is a movement from the frying pan to the fire.
So what exactly are our county governments doing about our health care? A time in this country needs to come where we take our health sector concerns seriously. The right to life has been taken lightly; the outcry from mashinani must be heard!