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County executive must revamp health sector — or ship out

The government of Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku is quickly pushing itself into a crisis of confidence, especially with regard to the running of the health sector. With all skeletons now out of the cupboard, it is disturbing that senior county officials are looking for side-shows rather than addressing the serious issues that face this critical sector.

Perhaps this is the result of a false confidence brought about by re-election, forgetting that the governor remains accountable to the people of Kajiado — both those who braved the morning chill to elect him and those who voted for his opponents. More alarmingly, it portrays the deeply-ingrained lethargic attitude of, “Mta-do?”

Hence, the remarks by Health County Executive Committee Member Alex Kilowua imputing improper motive on Kajiado Senator Samuel Seki for holding public hearings regarding the health sector were in bad taste. Kilowua said the senator was pained by the transfer of his wife from the referral hospital and that his efforts were therefore a personal vendetta. He also questioned why the public hearings were being held in hotels.

These, no doubt, are inconsequential concerns that deviate from the serious issues raised by the public in the hearings. The health minister has failed to answer the many residents who came up with tearful narratives of neglect at public hospitals. They told of health facilities without basic life-saving drugs; they spoke of a diet that was hardly suitable for recuperating patients; many were the stories of patients being sent to private pharmacies to purchase their prescribed medication; worst of all were the stories of dying relatives at the hands of doctors and nurses who had become monsters.

These are the issues county residents expected Kilowua and the county administration he serves to address. Instead, they have chosen to engage bloggers — many of them clueless about the problems bedeviling the health, education and other sectors — to sanitize the administration’s gross incompetence and failures.

This is not acceptable. Lenku and his team would be well advised to accept the principle of oversight. Having survived this far without acceding to the County Assembly’s demand for vetting of top appointees, they should not imagine that they can continue to ride roughshod over the electorate with no risk to themselves. Even after election, the electorate retains the right to recall their representatives in the event of dismal performance.

But before matters deteriorate to that level, hopefully they will have the good sense to respond to the concerns of residents, especially regarding crucial social sectors such as health and education. Health, in particular, is a devolved function for which there can be no buck-passing. The buck stops with Lenku, who must now either crack the whip or face the music from disgruntled residents.

In fact, the one-day public hearings by the senator were an eye-opener that ought to serve as a starting point in the process of restoring dignity to the health sector. This is a sector that has been haemorrhaged through massive corruption, staff neglect, and other ills — relegating service delivery to a mirage.

No problem can be solved through mud-slinging. Kilowua and his team must address the issues at stake or ship out. The people are tired and their goodwill should not be taken for granted. The warning has been sounded that residents will not continue to sit back and watch endless shenanigans from the county executive. The health sector must be urgently revamped.

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