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Garissa County: Problems in the Health Sector
By Abdirizak M.Diis
Wednesday - August 11, 2021


The central duty of establishing governments of all levels local, state, and national level throughout the world; is to improve the livelihood of its nationals.  They must deliver basic human necessities such as food, water, shelter, and health. Politics is about governance, development, and serving the best interest of the people.  However, in most African countries, those principles are neglected intentionally, or people are oblivious about their basic rights of holding their leaders accountable.  In both scenarios educating the public is the only way out of this difficulty.

 I have recently visited Kenya and I want to share some of the observations I made about some places I visited. It’s very tough to mention everything I have seen in this short article, but I will do my best to give major highlights and instill a sense of understanding about the places I visited. I believe that some of you have seen similar scenarios already in the places you live or visited.

Health Sector: I visited Garissa General Hospital which is also referred to as the largest hospital in Garissa County known as level 5. I was with a relative who was sick and needed specialized care that cannot be treated in local clinics.  The patient met the doctor the first day and requested imaging tests to be done.  We could not find the imaging service right after we met the doctor. We had to come back the following day and waited patiently to be called. Every time we checked with the people who were working there; they tell us to wait for the radiologist. We waited for him from 9 am until it was 4 pm.  I sensed that, once the clock hits 5 pm, we had no chance to see the radiologist, so I have to make every effort to see him. I talked to the administrators to ensure that we will get the service. They could not give us an answer and instead directed me to his office. I went to the radiologist’s office and didn’t know who he was or his appearance. I met a gentleman in the office and politely asked him about the doctor whom I was looking for. He was in a virtual meeting but responded to my query and nodded he is the one but in a meeting. He wrote a comment on the back of service order to see him tomorrow at 8:30 am. We met with him the following day and did the service, but it took us another two days to get the results.

The radiologist was a humble, respectful man who was doing all in his power to meet the needs of the people, however, seemed overwhelmed. but here are some observations I made about the hospital.

1- Staffing shortage: There was a shortage of staff and facilities. The staff shortage was in all aspects of the hospital who were conducting the duty from patient registration, reception, to providing the service. I observed two people in a very tiny room that was 2/3 meters. The queue was long and people waited until the end of the day and some of them are told to come back the following day. Junior staff performed the bulk of the work while doctors and specialists are very hard to be seen anywhere around. It’s well-known to everyone that the majority of the doctors own or work in private clinics in the town. They devote half of their time to their private clinics while they work full time at the hospital.

2-     Poor Hygiene: While I was at the hospital, I paid special attention to the cleanliness of the hospital which I rated 3/10. There was a container that was meant for people to wash their hands but there was no soap and water. Litters were thrown all over the place and almost 80% of the patients wear no masks including health professionals. 

3-     Privacy issues: During my stay at the hospital, I observed people going in and out of the scanning room including patients. The receptionist who is supposed to answer people’s concerns is sitting next to the patient’s bed where scanning is performed. Any random person can come into the room and ask questions all the while there is a patient on the bed with no clothes on.

There is no secrecy in the patient’s details and reason for coming to the hospital.

There is a great need to improve services at the Garissa General Hospital. This can happen only when accountability is put into place and the management is held accountable either by the elected officials or the people.

Accountability starts with fewer individuals who sacrifice their time and wealth and put self-interest aside to advance the best interest of the majority. They advocate, educate the public about their rights, mobilize the community, and raise awareness.  Allah SW says in the Quran “Allah will not change the status of a community until they change themselves” There is no doubt that if one speaks the truth, there will be enemies whom he/she is hurting. But if you are determined with a vision, change will come to Insha’Allah.  

Abdirizak M. Diis


 





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