05 August 2009


Since it seems to be a popular topic at home.  I have two stories to tell today.  The first involves our night watchman at the SJC, Samuel.  The second is about our house girl, Jacqueline.

I may or may not have mentioned before that Samuel is very sick.  In fact, he has lung cancer.  The doctor told him he was very sick a few weeks ago and Samuel kept quiet.  It was not until he was too sick to work that it became apparent what was happening.  Told he was going to die, Samuel was making his final preparations.  David and Joy found him at his home and forced him to seek treatment.  Monday, he was taken to a hospital in Eldoret by Sue and Joy.  Admitted immediately, he was given a blood transfusion because his blood level was dangerously low.  A biopsy was performed and the cancer was confirmed.  Samuel remains there, waiting for his family to come and get him.  The doctors want to do a few things to help but the 12,000 /= bill is too much for his family to pay.  So he will be gathered, when they raise the money to go get him, and return to his home without any sort of treatment.

Jacqueline came yesterday to our house and requested that I attend a clinic with her.  She said that the doctor asked to speak with me.  We met today and rode for twenty minutes to a small clinic between Malava and Eldoret.  There the doctor told me that he had discovered some tumors in her pelvis.  He wanted to begin chemotherapy immediately to treat the early growth.  Confident that it will take care of the problem, he wants to admit her today.

I share the examples because one has the support of a job and national healthcare and another does not.  Samuel has the Kenyan national healthcare, but it does not cover anything beyond admittance fees and some for drugs.  Jacqueline is not insured and is privately employed.  Despite different circumstances, both are unable to pay for their hospital bills.  I am sure that there are plenty of examples, but these two are the ones that I am seeing right now.  This is how a poor healthcare system, that is mostly private, can keep people from attaining their services.

I do not use this to say that the Obama healthcare plan is the way to go.  Frankly, I know very little about his plan.  However, I want to highlight the other side.  The ‘free market’ thought to healthcare.  It is the one that is of no use to the majority of people within Kenya.  Even with large NGO and global support, healthcare here is reserved for those who can pay.  In, USD the prices are extremely low, but when making only 100/= a day, they are far too high.

So people go without.  They go home to die or they suffer through coughing up blood and constant pain.

“Harambe” is a Swahili word that roughly means to pull together.  It is a common way for communities to raise money.  We will be going to one on Saturday for David’s church.  Sadly, there is no English equivalent.  With the debate over healthcare moving forward, it seems that now is the time to come up with our own way to pull together.  Not in a Socialist own nothing sort of way, but in a look-at-how-great-we-have-it way.  Here is a chance to pull together during financial stress.  A time when those who have no financial burden can lend a hand to those that do.

I wish that I could offer some sort of grand solution.  I do not know what to do, but I know what is wrong.  I know what cannot be accepted.  Although not as flawed as here, the current way that healthcare is dealt with in the United States is harmful.  The direction that must be looked towards is not one of full or even greater privatization.  Unless, of course, the US is trying to live at the same standard as Kenya.