Kenyan medicine costly but easier to get

You never miss Kenyan healthcare until you see bureaucracy abroad

In Summary

• Universal health care comes with its challenges, especially paediatrics

Medicine in a chemist in downtown Nairobi
Medicine in a chemist in downtown Nairobi

I firmly believe one of the things we undermine as Kenyans is Kenyan medicine. Sure, there are quacks in every field in the world, including in Kenya. Kenyan doctors are good, even the ‘bad’ ones are a hundred times better than some doctors out here.

You see, the only big issue with Kenyan medicine is money. If you have money and a good healthcare cover, then all the doctors are at your disposal. However, this is the opposite in the diaspora. One might have good healthcare or cash to pay upfront, but one has to navigate a plethora of challenges to even see a doctor.

For instance, in out parts of the world, doctors have quotas. They stop seeing new patients when they reach a certain amount of clients. Which itself makes absolutely no sense. A doctor might have 365 clients but there is no way on earth that these 365 clients will fill his schedule in the 365 days of the year.

So woe unto you if you are a new resident who wishes to see a doctor. I have been trying to see a gynecologist for over a year now!

My son is registered with our local paediatrician as his main doctor. Therefore, whenever my child is sick, he can only see this one doctor in the whole town. Otherwise, he has to go to the emergency room. For instance, since we have signed up with this doctor, we have only seen the man once!

Here is the kicker, though. To see this doctor, my son has to be at a certain level of sickness. Not too sick and not under-sick. If he's too sick, then he has to go to the Emergency Room. If he's not ‘sick enough’, then the nurses advise you to “wait it out”.

Which is what happened to us last week. My son had a full week of runny, smelly diarrhoea. At some point, I got concerned that this stomach bug was simply not passing. We bundled up and took him to the doctor without an appointment. Where the nurse turned us away as he had not been sick for long. Otherwise, if he contracted a urine infection, then we should proceed to the ER. 

Never in my life had I been more tempted to pack my bags and ship back to Kenya. The search for a better life is limited to my child's well being. Luckily, I have been accustomed to texting my regular paediatrician in Kenya whenever my child is sick. I managed to shoot him a quick text to which he responded that most doctors don't treat babies with diarrhoea for up to two weeks on infection.  

He still advised me on what to do and what to look out for. However, if we had been in Kenya, I would have gotten to see him in person and gotten some type of medical assistant to help my child.  

So for the Kenyans with children who want to seek a better life elsewhere, know that the grass is never really greener on the other side. And that Kenyan medicine is probably some of the best healthcare you will receive in this world.

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