DIRE SITUATION

Amid a global pandemic, Wajir County health department remains shambolic

Wajir has one of the highest mortality rates, specifically very high maternal mortality rates.

In Summary

• Wajir County has historically suffered from close to six decades of economic marginalisation by successive regimes.

• The county annoyingly lies to the Ministry of Health that it has met the minimum Coronavirus preparedness threshold, even when it doesn’t have painkillers on its shelves.

Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi (in white apron) with health workers at the isolation centre at the county referral hospital on April 12, 2020.
Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi (in white apron) with health workers at the isolation centre at the county referral hospital on April 12, 2020.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

One unavanishing truth is that the devolution of health by the architects of the constitution was supposed to rewrite the story of the entire health sector from a near-gloom to a robust tailored perfect fit to the endemic health pitfalls at the grassroots. 

Arguably, this was a timely intervention, only comparable to a cardiopulmonary resuscitation administered to the unconscious sector on its deathbed; to breathe it back to life.

I have always belonged to the school of thought that emphasises the philosophy "health is wealth" and that only a healthy population is highly productive as regularly advanced by human resource management scholars.

But, this is not the case in Wajir, my home county, a county that has historically suffered from close to six decades of economic marginalisation by successive regimes.

It was therefore, only natural that the arrival of devolved health sector was a supposed panacea.

Locals who spent several days travelling to far-flung hospitals in Nairobi or Garissa saw hope; new dawn which is regrettably, slowly, and painfully being short-circuited, thanks to a swamp created by an increasingly visionless nostrum of leadership.

Wajir County today has one of the highest mortality rates and specifically very high maternal mortality rates.

A very unfortunate development that should gush even the tears of sadists with the stoniest of hearts. Undeniably, the high death rates are attributed to the omnishambles called public hospitals in Wajir.

The whole county health sector is terminally ill. The main referral hospital suffers from incapacity through gross inadequacy of personnel to barefaced corruption and ineptitude.

If the drugs have not expired, they are simply absent, probably sold in the black market by the corrupt public administrators or simply not supplied, despite the billions of shillings going under the drain.

Just recently one of the long-serving health worker has succumbed to suspected Covid-19.

But his death remains etched in the memories of anyone who knew him. He died gasping for oxygen, because there was none.

The facility does not test for Covid-19 anymore because it has run out of testing kits.

The county annoyingly lies to the Ministry of Health that it has met the minimum Coronavirus preparedness threshold, even when it doesn’t have painkillers on its shelves.

This is an unforgivable misdemeanour that even annoys the Satan himself.

For a county that came to power on the premise of “Balantenu wa Shaqo” loosely translated as “our promise is to deliver,” such kind of leadership myopia is very disturbing.

It has openly proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it lacks the commitment, wherewithal, and intellectual wisdom for health development.

That locals have survived this mediocrity and still living is through the boundless bounties of God.

Curiously, this is the very administration fingered by the anti-graft body, EACC for being among the highest bribery index in its third year running.

The strategy wannabes around the "king" can't wake him up from this dangerous slumber in the middle of this turbulence, a turbulence whose end is not in sight.

It appears the leadership has permanently cut all links with common sense, intellect and the affliction of its subjects.

But as the Ghanaian inspirational writer, Israelmore Ayivorsaid, “If the problems you have this year are the same problems you had last year, then you are not a leader. You are rather a problem on your own that must be solved.”

Does that ring a bell? I hope it does.

Adow is a resident of Wajir County