There is this tap at the corner of Kenyatta National Hospital compound. It drips water.One droplet at a time, like clock work.You could stare at it all day and count how many drops of water have taken that birth. Beneath it is a concrete floor. More like one slab of concrete just for support as you fetch your water. It has a depression on it. Right in the middle where the water tenaciously hits. Soon, it will give way.it has too. The water will keep at it until there is a hole right through the slab.
A few yards away, a woman cries. Silently. Bitterly. Like her dignity was thrown to the dogs. Her tears, they too drip to the ground. They too form a depression in the soil. They too are salty, just like the water in that tap at the corner. But the ground. It drinks her tears up with the thirst of Kalahari desert sand. Drinks them like they are a much awaited dose of nourishment.
See, her son was diagnosed with cancer. Yes. His 15 year old liver is dieng, slowly and its taking him too. It was stage 2 cancer just last month. Now its stage 4.
“Kwa nini? mbona imeharakisha hivo?”, she rants at the doctor with a bitterness that knows no challenge. This doctor. Smug guy. He just walks away.there is nothing more he can do. The boy is going to die. A week,maximum, is the time he has left.
As she cries there, she couldn’t help but wonder; she has paid all her taxes, paid all her health insurance to a fault, and yet,here she is. The mother of a dieing son. A son who has missed 5 of his chemotherapy sessions because,and I quote, “madam! Machine inafanyiwa maintenance.kuja next week.ama umpeleke India.”
Three months ago, she was just an ordinary Kenyan single mother with a son in his teens. She would hear that the doctors had strikes because of pay and it didn’t bother her. She would read in papers that the ministry of health lost 5 billion shillings overnight and she would think to herself,”greedy fools!” Right now? She wants to march to the ministry. Strip naked right in front of the permanent secretary’s office and demand an explanation.
“5 billion…that money could buy two chemotherapy machines!what in the world would one person do with all that money?”, she thinks in abject pain.
Is it, truly, one person? Is just one person capable of doing all that harm? A few hundred kilometers away in a remote village in rural nyanza, a dispensary lacks drugs. A few hundred patients haven’t received their ARV treatments. The area MP argues that he only constructed the dispensary, that stocking it is the central governments job. The central government is quiet.
Away from the politics of health. There is stigma. A trail of myths and misconceptions about any and every disease stretching from here all the way to Timbuktu and back.
Are you indifferent about health care? Are you aware and alert of what the state of healthcare in the country is? Or are you waiting until you are a victim of it all so that you can act?
He didn’t choose to have cancer at 15 just like she didn’t choose to be shedding her tears at the waiting bench outside the hospital.
That tap. Remember it? Someone tampered with it. Someone neglected it.now its dripping. Just like us younguns. Victims of a sketchy system.
What will we do about it?
Join us this Saturday the 20th of may as we discuss the state of health in our country. Its happening all around us. We cannot afford to be pawns.let’s have a candid discussion.
Where? YWCA headquarters along Nyerere road next to the UAE embassy
Time? 1:30pm to 5 pm
Requirements? none at all…just come ready to be entertained and have a candid discussion on the state of health as a sustainable development goal.