Fight over hospital not in public interest
The apparent stalemate over the control of the publicly funded Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) is an indictment of the lethargy with which the government treats health-related issues.
Since its establishment in 2015, at least Sh10 billion taxpayers’ money has been sunk into the project that had been anticipated to be a game changer in the health sector.
Apparently, KUTRRH basks in the glory of being the best-equipped public health facility in the fields of oncology, cardiology, renal and pulmonary in the East and Central Africa region.
Whereas KUTRRH board chaired by Prof Olive Mugenda contends that the facility is a parastatal, having been gazetted by former President Uhuru Kenyatta on January 25, 2019 effectively severing the relationship between it and KU. The gazettment meant the facility was placed under the Ministry of Health.
On the other hand, KU’s Vice chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina insists the facility was constructed on the institution’s land, with the initial plans for its establishment having been for its facilities to be used for teaching, training and research by its trainee doctors.
As the fight heightens, KU has been forced to depend on infrastructure and facilities in other health institutions to train health professionals, which is quite expensive and unsustainable.
Prof Mugenda claims the hospital is not obligated to allow unlimited accessibility and availability to KU staff and students.
Similarly, despite being a public facility, the fees charged at the facility are no different from those imposed by premium private healthcare facilities.
The fight between the two institutions is therefore not in the best interest of the public but for self-serving purposes.
Since the fact remains that KUTRRH was constructed and is maintained using public funds, the issue of who manages remains secondary, and largely irrelevant.
The question should be on whether the facility is serving its purpose…. the provision of healthcare to Kenyans through teaching, research and referrals. The government should therefore, as a matter of urgency, move to address the sore issues at play to end the stalemate between the two bulls fighting over KUTRRH.