Let’s not politicise doctors’ plight

In Summary
  • Putting themselves on the frontline is not only patriotic but also the greatest human sacrifice one can make
  • Health is a devolved function and therefore county governments must work hard to resolve the issues

Dr Stephen Mogosu is a Kenyan hero. And this we can say for all doctors sacrificing their lives and risking everything to safeguard the lives of all Kenyans. Dr Mogosu, at only 28, lost his life last week due to Covid-19 complications. He has been described by his colleagues as a hardworking and dedicated individual who took his work seriously.

He had actually been deployed this year as part of the team that was implementing the universal healthcare programme. His dedication is therefore not in question and Kenya has lost a talented and well-trained health personnel.

Dr Mogosu’s story is sad and painful. So is the story of the many other doctors sacrificing their lives to keep us safe. I have a couple of family members who are doctors serving Kenyans in hospitals around the country.

The thought that they are risking their lives to keep us safe is scary, but also something that makes me proud of them every day. Putting themselves on the frontline at this time when we are fighting a pandemic is not only patriotic but also the greatest human sacrifice that one can make.

Today, I salute doctors, nurses and all medical personnel who are working to keep us safe. And I cannot forget all the support staff who are working alongside them in all our medical facilities. No words can express the depth of gratitude that every Kenyan has for you.

What we must do as a nation is celebrate our doctors, support them by following the Covid-19 safety guidelines so we do not fall sick and risk exposing them as well. We must do all in our power to ensure that all medics and support staff stay safe and away from unnecessary exposure to Covid-19.

As we have seen over the last couple of months, Covid-19 is not a respecter of persons. The rich, the poor, the old, the young and the educated are all dying from the disease. So exposing ourselves and the medical staff should be the last thing we do.

Unfortunately, many have come out to politicise the plight of medical personnel. Yes, all doctors need personal protective equipment and everything that is necessary to keep them safe as they serve patients.

Yes, doctors must be paid their dues so they do not struggle as they serve the nation. Yes, doctors must be treated with utmost respect and decency. All of these are non-negotiable.

What is unfortunate is the number of people coming out to politicise the plight of doctors, take credit, deflect blame and build their own personal reputations riding on the wave of the suffering by others. This is wrong.

Doctors have a right to industrial action and we must do everything possible to listen, act on their demands and get them back to work as soon as possible. Already, patients are suffering after nurses and clinical officers downed their tools. We cannot allow the situation to escalate.

We cannot continue with the blame game that we have witnessed in the last couple of weeks. We cannot allow ourselves to believe that anyone is blameless or another has to be blamed more.

A lot of blame has gone to the national government, especially the Ministry of Health. But we should also remember that health is a devolved function and therefore county governments must work hard to resolve the issues.

It is encouraging to see a number of governors take it upon themselves to try and solve the issue. While it is a national conversation, the issues facing medical personnel are very localised depending on where they are based.

As we sort out their welfare and the health of the nation, let us be remember that an election is coming in 2022. This election will not be postponed because of Covid. We must all think critically and do everything possible to put the interests of this nation first.