We need hospitals with good doctors, not airstrips

Emergencies

When it comes to emergency medicine, time is life: the sooner the intervention, the more the likelihood of saving a life.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kitonga needed a well-stocked hospital with a qualified doctor to address the life-threatening emergency.
  • When it comes to emergency medicine, time is life: the sooner the intervention, the more the likelihood of saving a life.
  • What Kitui and the rest of the country need is not an airstrip, but accessible fully equipped, stocked and manned health facilities.

Over a week ago, we lost a celebrated legal mind. Nzamba Kitonga, an award-winning lawyer, is said to have collapsed while in Kitui and pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

While many Kenyans complained that poor transport infrastructure delayed his intervention, the real problem was actually lack of access to health. If there was a well-equipped and staffed hospital within reach, why would Kitonga have required air lifting to the capital?

Kitonga needed a well-stocked hospital with a qualified doctor to address the life-threatening emergency. When it comes to emergency medicine, time is life: the sooner the intervention, the more the likelihood of saving a life.

Kitonga’s death took me down memory lane. Eight years ago in Malawi, the former president, Bingu wa Mutharika, suffered a cardiac arrest and could not be revived.

Private jet

The state of healthcare in Malawi was said to be so poor that hospitals may have lacked the emergency drugs that would have given the former president a fighting chance. Even after he was confirmed dead, the health institutions lacked sufficient electricity to preserve his body. He had to be flown to South Africa. Access to an air strip and a private jet did not save him.

It is easy to remember Kitonga and Mutharika because of their position in our society. But, how many children under five have we lost since the promulgation of the Constitution in 2010?

How many 64-year-olds have collapsed in interior Kitui and could not be revived?

What Kitui and the rest of the country need is not an airstrip, but accessible fully equipped, stocked and manned health facilities. Funding health is not easy. But, for those who value their citizens’ lives, there is nothing too expensive.

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