An essay: Why were there no medicines in Kenyan hospitals if there was so much else to show off?

As a voter and health care provider, I wonder why there were no medicines in Kenyan public hospitals if there was so much else to show off. I will start by explaining the showiness, then why some of our priorities were upside down.

In one senatorial by-election in the recent years, the campaign was very hot and it seemed the stakes were high. The campaign team of one of the candidates in their wisdom saw that they needed to do a land-to-air onslaught. So they came in contingents of top of the range big blue/black cars the popularly known as: Vx/Zx/Tz/V6/V8, Prado Teardrop, Mercs etc. Dust rose all around, high output public address stereo speakers bellowed the landscape, the air was ionized and could easily be ignited with a rhetoric song in praise of the political party and candidate. Business came to a standstill.

They hovered over the territory in six choppers (helicopters) and more cars on the roads or was it more roads with more cars? During meetings the six choppers could be seen neatly packed in the stadium. One media house titled it: Chopp my money.

Cost: In 2017, there were 88 registered helicopters in Kenya. A new one was costing Ksh 600m and a second hand Ksh 340m or thereabout. It cost Ksh 170,000 per hour to hire one helicopter. For 12 hours that would be Ksh 2,040,000×6 choppers=12,240,000x7days=85,680,000. That is Ksh 85.68m in just one week for the choppers alone.[1USD =100Ksh]. That was more than enough money if it was put in health care. http://mobile.nation.co.ke/news/Politicians-hunt-for-votes-using-choppers/1950946-3960234-format-sitemap-12sqeo4z/index.html

[Choppers parked at Eldoret Sports Club before a campaign rally. A helicopter has become the status symbol in today’s politics. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP]

The wananchi (to mean citizens or residents) were amazed. Some on barefoot, enthralled and cheered on the showy politicians. They greeted them (or accepted unsustainable tokens) with a supported handshake. They could not see through the hoodwinking, the lies and the hypocrisy of politicians. Others in consternation were put off by this presumptuous consumption. Either way, as a result, they delivered the votes, period!

Could be that the candidate won and the people lost. I think that’s it, because even the oversold promises could not live. Some promises sounded and looked good but didn’t make sense. May be this saying was true about some politicians, ‘you should always say what you mean not’. But it didn’t matter; they could always be reincarnated, revived, rehearsed in the next election, posturing with more sweeteners for mwananchi. It had been observed from various quarters that Kenya was generally a political economy and politics was about personality, propaganda and seducing the masses. Some even spurring confrontations among the people.

Lots of stuff was written by political protagonists, confusing the public further, because ‘politics sells’. Corrupting decisions made by the citizens through misinformation and propaganda or hyping on people’s ignorance was the wrong thing to do. Neither was defending positions, showing how we got to where we were without offering tangible solutions to help the residents. If only people could see through (even by simple commonsense) who among them was believable, could deliver. Who could they trust with their health, safety, their life?

Kenyans elections were among the most costly in the world. The two elections in 2017 would cost the taxpayer Ksh 52b. It was estimated then one needed Ksh 40m to seek an election post (anything up from woman representative, senatorial, member of parliament, to gubernatorial) in Kenya for the campaign alone. May be that was why the Kligler Commission that had investigated post-election violence in 2008 had proposed an Election Finance Act.

In the interest of basic fairness and equity something was wrong somewhere. All these times the mwananchi continued to complain there were no medicines in the hospitals. If such a funds (above) were to be injected into the health care system it could do wonders. At that particular time in the case above, the county referral hospital’s busy Sick Child Clinic there was only diarhoeal treatment salts – Zinc element (dts-Z kit), syrup paracetamol, injection adrenaline and injection hydrocortisone in stock.

Kenyans are supreme and sovereign. Leaders must not have a sense of entitlement, throwing around their weight for the wananchi to notice. They even expect the public to excuse their offences and transgressions. They are eager to start something fresh, including controversies so that they can become popular, then chest thump and ask for votes in return. Kenyans will need to learn to exercise their duty to vote in transformational leaders with a conscience.

There was this commentator on a popular music competition TV show that run by the name of Americans got talent who stopped the buck where it belonged – voting in the winner, ‘Americans can’t just let it be, they have to vote …with a clarion call to – ‘Let your voice and vote count’.

Then it was all quiet again, the land needed rest until another election. But were we indeed going to rest? There is something everyone can do so that we can have something for everyone. In conclusion, we ask why were there no medicines in Kenyan hospitals if there was so much else to show off?

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