Faith Kiraguri lost her elder brother Edwin Ngugi Kiraguri to complications that developed after a long battle with kidney failure two years ago.
Her memories of the challenges the family faced in their endeavour to get him the best treatment both locally and abroad are still fresh in her mind.
Ngugi started developing kidney complications in 2005, long before the government introduced the Managed Equipment Service (MES) and the Computed Topography (CT) scan installation programmes at county hospitals around the country.
Back then, most patients in need of specialised tests and procedures either had to deal with long queues at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), pay dearly for the same services at selected private hospitals, or travel abroad for treatment.
But that wasn’t the only challenge in accessing specialised treatment for her brother.
“I remember the numerous times my brother would instantly develop complications and force us to rush him to KNH for emergency treatment.
At times, we would arrive early only to find long queues of patients waiting to undergo dialysis, thereby forcing the doctors to recommend drugs to stabilise him as he waited for his turn; and other times, the traffic along Thika road would really mess us up and we’d arrive late for emergency treatment.
Had there been a good hospital with skilled doctors and specialised equipment nearby, the strain would have been less,” Faith told the Correspondent.
Today, Faith feels that the opening of the new Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital shall help patients save time lost in traffic while travelling to KNH and other major hospitals located within Nairobi County.
The hospital, whose phase one is now complete and fully furnished with modern equipment, is set to open soon after it gets the funds needed to kick-start its operations.
Details of what is expected of the yet-to-be constructed phase two of the hospital remain scanty, but it has emerged that it may include a major children’s hospital.
According to the hospital’s website, Kenyans will no longer need to spend huge amounts of money seeking treatment abroad as the facility will offer some of the best highly trained and experienced doctors to conduct research, diagnose and treat common illnesses and conditions.
When the Health parliamentary committee members led by their chair Sabina Chege visited the facility last week, it expressed shock that the country was spending billions of money in purchasing ICT equipment for county hospitals whereas a fully furnished hospital with the most modern diagnostic and treatment machines was lying unutilised for lack of operating capital.
“This is a huge facility with a 600 bed capacity, 21 Intensive Care Unit beds all with equipment. The warranty for some of the equipment has expired and now they are working on post-warranties.
We need to support the Presidency in achieving universal health care by fast-tracking its opening,” Ms Chege said last week.
The committee then vowed to forward proposals to the Treasury and the Budget and Appropriations Committee of Parliament seeking intervention in the issue.
“We are currently on recess but on Wednesday next week, we shall have a meeting to work on the way forward. We will definitely make sure that we support the hospital to be operationalised,” she said.
It is expected that Thika Level 5 Hospital, Gatundu Level 5 Hospital and Kiambu Level 5 Hospital in Kiambu County will benefit from reduced patient numbers as some will now seek treatment at the new facility. The hospital will also relieve KNH of its huge patient numbers.