When you have to bribe to get served

Watchman ushered me past queue only for waiting doc to ask for Sh2k

In Summary

• Ongoing strike by medics reminds me of an experience I once had

A hallway in the hospital
A hallway in the hospital

The ongoing doctors' strike led me to remembering one of my other hospital experiences.

One of the requirements for public university admission is providing a medical report, which is to be carried out in a public hospital.

A week before joining the university, I happened to visit [name withheld], which was the nearest public hospital I could access at the time.

At the gate, I asked the security guard where I would get help in securing my medical report. He directed me to the main section of the hospital.

I knew that the situation in public hospitals wasn’t the best, but I didn’t know it was this bad.

For starters, there were long queues, and the whole place was generally crowded. A short, plump woman, who I assumed was one of the nurses on duty, shouted as she ordered people to go to their respective lines. She wasn’t the kindest and was pretty rude, something I didn’t expect from a nurse.

Wewe mama, ebu toka hapa uende huko! We mzee, harakisha na hiyo kijiti uende upange line!” she commanded. Anyone would think this was an army training camp and that the nurse was a drill sergeant.

I avoided her and went ahead to ask the security guard, who was stationed inside on the way forward.

Cheekily, he asked whether I needed a medical report for the university and I said yes. He led me to the consultation rooms, where people sat on the few benches outside as everyone else queued, waiting to see the two medical doctors who were in service. He entered and spoke to the lady medical doctor.

Afterwards, we went nearby to a weighing machine, where he took my height and weight and noted them on a piece of paper. Not to show any offence, but isn’t this supposed to be the work of a nurse or at least a doctor? He gave me the piece of paper and told me to go back and wait for my name to be called.

The doctor stepped out of the consultation room and called out my name. In the consultation room, I provided the medical forms, which she quickly filled in. I asked whether I would be taking the tests indicated in the medical forms and her reply was, “Woii kairetu, huku labs zimejaa, si umeona hizo line? Na hizi tests ni mingi. We nipe tu 2,000 tumalizane.

I told her I only had M-Pesa in my phone, on which she told me that I have to withdraw the amount since she can only accept cash. She called back the security guard and asked him to direct me to the M-Pesa shop, which was just by the gate. I did the transaction and went back to the doctor and gave her the money.

As a lawful citizen, I knew what I had participated in, but little did I know that in the years to come, I would find that that “toa kitu kidogo” is one of the ways to survive in this country.

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