MP Murunga’s death wake up call on healthcare
Thursday, November 19th, 2020
The death of Matungu MP Justus Murunga in his rural county, has opened the lid on the state of health facilities outside the big towns.
Reports had indicated that the MP died three days after he had been discharged from a private hospital in Kisumu where he was being treated for diabetes.
The MP collapsed at his home and relatives rushed him to Matungu Hospital from where he was moved to St Mary’s Mission Hospital.
His condition got worse as he was being transferred between the two facilities.
The MP, who is said to have succumbed to Covid-19, could not get oxygen in the facilities.
If for anything else, Murunga’s death illustrates the vulnerability of rural communities that are exposed to weak health systems.
That an MP could not obtain the much-needed help, speaks volumes on the vulnerability of ordinary Kenyans.
There have been interesting discussions in Parliament with one MP suggesting that a stand-by helicopter be availed for emergency health services for lawmakers.
This would be expected in a country where politicians are bigoted with a strange sense of entitlement, with little attention being given to the plight of their constituents.
The irony of the MP’s helicopter proposal is that the lawmakers not only have a role to play in improving provision of health services in their constituencies but also have public resources at their disposal for the job.
MPs are entrusted with the National Government Constituency Development Fund in which taxpayers have invested billions of shillings.
The cash can be used to build and equip health facilities in the constituencies.
It is also the role of Parliament to pass budgets for the various dockets-health included.
Besides, they have the constitutional mandate of agitating for their constituents’ needs in the House.
The fact that Murunga could not obtain oxygen — which should be affordable — in the two hospitals he visited, is a sad commentary on the status of health facilities in rural areas and should prick the conscience of elected leaders.
The country has witnessed cases where expectant mothers have delivered on the roadside because of lack of maternity facilities, while families have lost loved ones due to unavailability of health services.
Never mind that county governments have been allocated cash for provision of health services.
While they mourn their colleague, MPs should wake up to the reality that they are partly to blame for the poor state of our hospitals, especially those in rural areas.