At one point, the President of the United States of America, Donald J Trump, referred to African countries as ‘shithole’ countries.
As Kenyans, and as Africans, we became furious, took to the social media, protested and called Donald Trump names. In fact, we said that Trump was the one who was a shithole.
I was among those who protested and I remember writing an open letter to Trump, “Dear Mr. Trump, This is a Letter from a ‘Shithole’ Country” but after some time, am beginning to think that Donald Trump was 100 percent right in as far as the happenings in Kenya are concerned.
Kenya is a country where everyone, both the middle-class and poor and walking dead. Sleeping is a must but waking up safe and sound the following day is not guaranteed.
The health system is in a coma and officially in Medical Intensive Care Unit but we are too blind to see. “Our health system is the best in the world,’ our leaders tell us and we believe them. What we do not know is that maybe we are the best among the worst.
Chances of going to a Kenyan hospital to be treated only to contract another disease that is even more serious than the one you went to be treated for are almost 90 percent. Visit our public hospitals and you will always be praying to the Almighty God that you never fall sick. Patients suffering from different illness, some that are contagious share beds and the same blanket, if any.
Woe unto you if you contract a terminal illness in Kenya and you are poor because you will die. If you are a middle-class earner, you have nothing to smile about because if you get a terminal illness, you will spend all your savings, become poor and then die too.
The sad reality is that those who flood the public hospitals are poor Kenyans who cannot afford the luxury of private hospitals. The institutions are in dilapidated condition and with each passing day, we move closer to our graves.
The Dead KNH
Look at the saga surrounding Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest referral hospital in East and Central Africa. The hospital is now a shell, beautiful from the outside but rotten from within. It is like a grave that has been beautifully painted but inside lies decomposing flesh.
The institution first hit the headlines when a nurse at the facility raped a girl who had been admitted for burns. The nurse was dismissed but the scars still remain.
Then came the scariest revelation about KNH that shook the whole country. There were allegations that lactating mothers were being harassed and raped by mortuary attendants at the hospital.
As it is the norm for most Kenyans when caught on the wrong, there are always three rules: rule number one, deny, rule number two, deny and rule number three, do not forget rule number one and two. The management denied.
As it is the norm again, an investigation was launched. Let us just call it a small commission of inquiry to “look into the matter” and then come up with a “detailed report” of what “transpired” and the recommendations. We are still waiting and the one who initiated the “investigation” is now an ambassador.
Still, at Kenyatta National Hospital, the neurosurgeon at the facility opened up the head of a wrong patient. This is how it happened; there were two patients, one needed normal treatment and the other needed an operation. The doctors at the facility, however, ended up operating on the patient who needed normal medication and left the one who needed an operation. Confusion.
The CEO has since been sent a compulsory leave and the matter has since taken both a political and tribal angle. The rest is history but in the words of the chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU), “Kenyatta National Hospital is a dead hospital.” Now, it is a dead hospital where the living and sick go with the hope of coming out alive and kicking.
The numerous strikes by doctors in this country are one of the sickening things. At one point, doctors went on strike for 100 hundred days as we went on, busy with politics.
Every time doctors go on strike, Kenyan often die in numbers. We have never known the exact statistics because most of them die in their homes. Why the numerous strikes? Why can’t the plight of doctors be solved? Reason? Simple. When doctors go on strike, the poor are the ones who suffer and die. The filthy rich will go to private institutions and some will fly abroad for “specialized” treatment.
The health system was devolved and this was like devolving death and distribute it equally among the 47 counties. Doctors in various counties have been ‘downing their tools’ in turns over poor pay and pathetic working conditions. The poor have continued to suffer. The poor have continued to die.
The health sector in almost every county is in a pathetic condition. Public hospitals have been turned into prescription centers with doctors running chemists just outside the gates. Poor Kenyans go in, the doctors look at them, prescribe for them and direct them to where they should buy the said medicine.
Towards the end of 2017, the county of Baringo dominated the headlines when more than 20 people including children died of malaria. Malaria killed many in a county that produced a president who ruled this country for 24 solid years.
How greedy, ignorance and stupidity is killing us
Apart from the general health sector in the country, the greedy nature, ignorance and the stupidity of most Kenyans is costing them their lives.
In the recent past, there have been increased cases of cancer among the youth in Kenya. Young people are increasingly dying of diseases that were in the past associated with either lifestyle or the Western World. The truth is, some greedy Kenyans are killing their fellow ignorant Kenyans ‘slowly’.
Let us begin with githeri (a mixture of maize and beans). Do you know that that githeri you love buying either from a kibanda or from that big hotel in town might be sending you to the grave every time you partake of it?
It has been known that almost 90 percent of those who cook and sell githeri, in Nairobi, even in those posh hotels, are using painkillers to make the food cook faster. Yes. Painkillers. According to a study, most vendors use between 20 and 100 tablets of painkillers depending on the number of people they want to feed. Medical practitioners have warned that when painkillers are subjected to intense heat, they produce other chemicals that are harmful to human health including causing cancer. As you consume that githeri you love, count your days too towards an early grave.
What about that meat you love so much? Yes. That stake you love consuming on a daily basis. It may be a nyama choma or a kachemsha or both. Do you know that most butchers are now using formalin to conserve their meat? Do you know what formalin is? I will tell you this for free. This is a chemical that is used to preserve dead bodies in the morgue. Now, imagine, this is what the butchers are using to preserve that meat that is always “fresh”. Next time you enter a butchery and you don’t see even a single fly, run for your life because most likely, that meat has been injected with formalin.
What about the spinach and that sukumawiki that you never live without? How are they preserved? Where are they being planted? Do you know that people are now using chemicals to preserve them and consuming them only exposed you to risks of getting cancer? And where are they grown? Maybe you don’t know that most of them are harvested from the sewage. If you didn’t, now you do.
Do you love Nduma? (Arrowroots). Do you know where most of them being sold on the streets come from? You don’t know? Ask. Fruits are now being preserved using chemicals and with each passing day, we are moving to our early grave sooner than we think.
And what about water? That bottled water that you love buying for drinking? Do you know that Kenyans are now making their ‘own’ water, packaging it and selling it in disguise of other brands? That bottled water you are fond of taking might just be water from a river or tap that is untreated. You are killing yourself.
Now, my good friends, as we walk dead, the question is, what should we do?