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D 8 décembre 2016     H 05:44     A Henry Makori     C 0 messages

Thousands of poor people are right now suffering and dying needlessly in Kenya due to a well-heeded strike by nurses and medical doctors in public service over a dishonored pay deal with the government. The media is carrying dramatic pictures of patients in agony unable to access medical care, left on their own to die a miserable death.

Amidst this most gratuitous suffering of masses of poor people, a narrative has emerged (generated, no doubt, by the few rich and middle class types, who don’t use public health services in the first place) attempting to portray the striking health workers as uncaring and money-minded. This is a pitifully senseless distraction.

The strike started this week following prolonged failure of the thieving regime of Uhuru and Ruto to honour a pay deal signed with the health workers’ unions three years ago. The unions are frustrated by government’s Machiavellian tactics in handling this issue. There have been lots of trumpeting by the regime and its backers about massive investments in the health sector, without a single word about improving the terms and conditions of work of health workers in public service to attract and retain the best in the business.

The current attempts to delegitimise the genuine struggle of doctors and nurses against a self-absorbed criminal regime by casting them as uncaring and money-minded are cynical and pathetically shallow. The people propagating this sick narrative would complain about the poor services of a doctor or nurse who is tired, demoralized, inattentive and frustrated by too much work and little pay in deplorable working conditions in public hospitals where poor people are taken to simply die. Where are the health workers expected to find the energy and motivation to give high quality professional care if they themselves are neglected ?

The current crisis is a political one – in the sense that the priority in allocation of public money is about the welfare of the rich and the ruling classes, and putting up of mega-projects for political show, and not providing basic services like health care to the majority poor.

Moreover, the mind-boggling looting spree presided over by Kenya’s despicable excuse for leaders, Uhuru and Ruto, belies any tales about lack of funds to give health workers a decent pay.

This crisis should jolt Kenyans up from their slumber to see the desperate need for competent and people-centred leadership in this country.
We are all doctors and nurses, in the sense that their struggle mirrors our own. We must reflect honestly, without giving excuses, about the situation that Kenya’s political economy has plunged us into individually and collectively.

This is squarely a class issue, not one of tribe, gender or creed. It is not only that doctors, after years of schooling, are paid far less than Members of County Assembly who only require a secondary education ; millions of people in Kenya go to bed hungry, cannot afford a good education for their children, cannot find a job, have no access to clean water and sanitation, good clothes or decent housing.

Kenyans are heavily taxed, directly and otherwise. Billions of shillings are borrowed in their name each year. The country is currently groaning under the weight of a humongous public debt. But what do the majority of the citizens have to show for all that money ?

If you would like to have an educated perspective on how public healthcare and other basic services like housing and education can be provided free to all the citizens, go read about Cuba : A country that is much smaller than the much vaunted "economic powerhouse of East Africa", and which has been under a debilitating economic blockade instigated by the US for over half a century.

Kenya desperately needs liberation, a Revolution at any cost, led by the masses of poor suffering people. Only that. At any cost. Aren’t people already dying needlessly anyway ? Kenyans must seek to dismantle this inhuman system of death-dealing elite politics built on lofty rhetoric and tribal calculus.
By any means necessary.

Henry Makori