KILLERS

If not for graft, we'd have a chance at beating cancer

Corruption is the biggest cancer of all.

In Summary

When you see or hear of scandals or potential scandals at the Health ministry or other health institutions such as NHIF or Kenyatta National Hospital, then we realise Kenyans are paying for these with their lives.

Cancer cells
Cancer cells
Image: COURTESY

There is no good death for sure. Death robs us of our peace and causes great agony. It creates a sense of loss and pain. But one day all of us; big, small, powerful, powerless, movers and shakers, good or bad, shall all die. But we all wish to live long; death, inevitable though, is not welcome.

So when cancer starts killing so many in the country, we need to take note and find ways to at least mitigate suffering, and reduce death. Lately, cancer has slain several public figures such as Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, Kibra MP Ken Okoth and Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso.

Reading through reports from medical practitioners and the Health ministry, one realises we have a scourge of immense proportions. Thousands of Kenyans are dying of the scourge each year. This is in addition to other non-communicable and communicable diseases. With an estimated 33,000 Kenyans dying of cancer each year, this is a monumental problem.

What is even more worrying is that it is gaining publicity for killing well-known personalities. These are people who could afford healthcare in relatively good hospitals anywhere on the globe. What about the majority of citizens who can ill afford even the cost of treating lesser debilitating illnesses?

Our health system is quite inadequate. It is inadequate not because there was not an opportunity to make it better but corruption has eaten the system just like most of the Kenyan fabric. Corruption has simply eaten Kenya. When you see or hear of scandals or potential scandals at the Health ministry or other health institutions such as NHIF or Kenyatta National Hospital among others, then we realise Kenyans are paying for these with their lives.

If there was no corruption the government kitty would be bigger and we could have a bigger allocation going to health for building facilities, providing drugs, training more doctors and more medical practitioners at all levels.

When you see or hear of scandals in any sector of the economy or any ministry, department or agency of government, know that some people somewhere will pay a price with their lives. Money or resources stolen or misallocated deny the overall economy and government an opportunity to serve its people.

If there was no corruption the government kitty would be bigger and we could have a bigger allocation going to health for building facilities, providing drugs, training more doctors and more medical practitioners at all levels. With corruption, these and more opportunities are being denied citizens and this has been happening over the years. The consequences are devastation of immense proportion to the weak of the society.

Cancer is dangerous and so are many other diseases, which have become rampant. As a country, it behoves us to improve on medical facilities. Similarly, we are training very few doctors and the general health ecosystem is not in tune with the needs of the country. Funding and medical schemes such as NHIF need to improve many times more.

We cannot achieve these in an environment where corruption has become a celebrated culture. Corruption is like a swam of locusts, it eats everything in its wake. It destroys everything and fuels bad leadership. Corruption feeds or protects and is also protected by tribalism, clannism and such other societal divisions. In its wake corruption feeds on the state progressively and destroys the country's citizens. The weak who are the majority get the biggest hit.

Government statistics show that thousands in Kenya die of cancer each year, an indication of just how many amongst the poor or the weak are being wiped out. The rich and not so rich are also not spared. The danger is unless we work on the biggest cancer, which is corruption, society will grow weaker and many will prematurely keeping dying of cancer, non-communicable and communicable diseases.

We do not even have enough funds to carry out campaigns to educate the public persistently on how to avoid the numerous diseases. And our health facilities are ill-equipped to handle the numerus people falling sick. This is one reason many Kenyans are going abroad to countries such as India to seek medical services for diseases that can be treated here at home, if we invested in health infrastructure and personnel.

The first point of call is prudent management of resources. Devoid of corruption Kenya can become one of the greatest countries on earth. Devoid of corruption Kenya can fix so many of its weak systems that include health. Devoid of corruption Kenyans can certainly live with better health and keep looking to better future all the time. We certainly have to destroy the biggest cancer of all—corruption.

Nairobi.

Political, economic and social analyst.