Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Russian - American novelist Ayn Rand remarked "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

That our country has been living with its head profoundly submerged in the sand of indifference to matters healthcare cannot be exaggerated.

On the 3rd of February this year, the then Jubilee presidential Candidate, now President elect of the Republic of Kenya launched his manifesto. It was in his
off-the-script promises that I would like to strongly put an aide-mémoire that these words must be honoured. In the African traditions it is an abomination to break a promise made to a dying man.

We need to act with promptness. Between the intervals the promise was made and when the inauguration will take place nearly 16,400 families will be grieving the death of a child. A preventable death.1058 families will have to bury a mother. A death born of a non-ailment. These deaths will be as a result of our inaction. As the jingoistic dance stifles the dust to hail new king, as money is splashed and our military paraded, as many eat to fullness to trigger a vomitus, we must not forget these facts. 

The statistics above count the gasps just between now and April 9th.

While these very compelling arguments have been given before as to try tilt the discussion in favour of increased healthcare funding and improved policies to stop this ‘systemic genocide’, little has been done in the concrete to realize this. While the rest of the world is making bold steps towards eradicating needless mortalities, our trend of preventable deaths has been rising. This is tragic.

For some of us the last few weeks presented breath-holding events in relations to the unfolding occasions in the political arena to these families the reason was different. They held their breaths expecting a loved one to make it. To live. To continue being a mother, and to the parents to foresee their children take on their next developmental milestone. Most did not make it.

The situation we are in compels us to categorize infant death as a major developmental milestone. It must be in that worst category not unless we are a society of sadists.

So the razzle-dazzle of the elections has waded. We remain with the most important day in an election calendar; the day after the election results. A time to keep the promises and change Kenya for the better. When that better means life or death, then we have to keep the promise.

On that fortifying afternoon, at 5:30 pm, the promise of free maternal healthcare was made. Also made was the undertaking to release funds meant to equip health centers and Dispensaries with the necessary emergency drugs. It would also be free henceforth to access these peripheral health facilities.

The timeline given was 100 days, and I suspect that this is from inauguration. How I hope the countdown would start earlier because of the stakes involved. Unnecessary deaths.

These challenges would create an important opportunity for our new President to not only silence his critics but also to do what has been long overdue – better accessible healthcare. It would be an important step in the right direction towards this end.

We must wish him well. After all it’s about our survival. That is the reality.

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