Last week, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala organized several free medical checkups in his County. The revelations arising from the free medical checks are that our Counties, leave alone Kenya, are far from achieving Universal Healthcare. Indeed, those free medical checks tell a story of the majority of the Western region’s citizens suffering under the weight of diseases, with the health facilities not fit for purpose or those that are not affordable for the residents.
The County governments of Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga and neighboring Trans Nzoia should stop playing lip service in the provision of quality, affordable healthcare to the citizens. Why should provision of healthcare, the anchor of the first fundamental right of every Kenyan-the right to life-be so difficult to deliver? Why is it that six years since the advent of devolution, access to quality health care for all residents in the Counties remains so elusive, so contentious, so erratic?
County governments’ first Constitutional duty to their County residents is to provide first grade quality, reliable, consistent healthcare, this duty is not negotiable. It is criminal for County governments to continue expending colossal sums of money on roads, stadiums and other secondary infrastructure when they are unable to deliver quality healthcare to all their County citizens.
And where are the County governments’ public health care outreaches, initiatives, interventions to reduce the causes of diseases especially the preventable ones like malaria and the waterborne diseases? Where are the public awareness campaigns to address malnutrition, and waterborne diseases just to name a few? Why should Governors, County Executive Members, Chief Officers, Senators, MPs, MCAs be busy officiating at harambees to bury the dead, trying out their oratory skills at funerals every Saturday and yet they can’t design and implement affordable healthcare provision that’s supposed to reduce the rampant health associated deaths? Is it that our elected leaders, public servants are oblivious to the fact that the myriad of deaths plaguing the region are preventable or are they happy to misallocate and steal County taxpayers’ resources and thereby cause havoc?
We must design ruthless measures to hold our politicians accountable on the pathetic healthcare systems they continue to preside over that are contributing to premature deaths in our Counties. The health care question is not negotiable. County administrations should shape up or prepare to face legal challenges soon.