Monday, December 05, 2016

They won't give up their gold-standard

State officers include the President, Deputy President, Governor, Deputy Governor, Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary, Attorney-General, Director of Public Prosecutions, members of constitutional commissions and holders of independent offices, parliamentarians, members of county assemblies, and judges and magistrates. Their status affords them many privileges including insurance policies designed to cover almost all medical emergencies or care. 
When faced with medial emergencies, State officers do not have to worry about queuing in sub-standard public health facilities for care; almost all of them have the option of being treated in private health facilities in any part of the world. Just recently, the Governor of Bomet was struck in the face by a teargas canister and was flown to South Africa for "emergency treatment" at a private health facility. In the same week, the parents of conjoined twins witnessed the medical skills of surgeons at the Kenyatta National Hospital when the twins underwent surgery to separate them. By all accounts the children are recuperating well and are expected to make a full recovery from their surgery. Though it hasn't been reported as such, I believe the parents of the twins are not State officers nor do they enjoy the same kind of health security that the Governor of Bomet does.

There is a cohort of vocal Kenyans who are demanding that State officers should be compelled to accept medical care from the health system they are responsible for. They argue that Kenya has world class surgeons who have demonstrated their surgical skills numerous times and that it isn't necessary for State officers to seek medical care outside Kenya. As an example, they argue that the Governor of Bomet should have sought the more affordable emergency treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital rather than further endangering his life in a five-hour aeroplane journey to an unknown and untested South African health facility. I agree with this cohort. But I am also a pragmatist; no State officer is going to accept the demand.

State officers are not like you or I. They are special. Their needs are special. Anything that affects them also affects the functioning of the State itself. Nothing affects them as much as their fragile health for which the public facilities are ill-equipped to handle. The moment they ascended to their seats of power and influence, they underwent a physiological metamorphosis that heightened their medical needs to critical proportions. They cannot live among us anymore; their medical constitutions have become too weak to cope with dust, noise, and impure and uncertain water supplies. Placing their medical needs in the hands of health workers who come into contact with the rest of us simply endangers their lives and, by extension, the stability of the State. If a Kenyan surgeon attempted the same kind of complicated surgery that separated those cute conjoined twins, it would end in catastrophic failure leading to the fall of the Government and the utter destruction of the State as we know it.

For the sake of political and national stability, State officers must continue to access iffy healthcare in foreign lands at the hands of unknown medical personnel. It is a security measure too. These foreigners, the more foreign the better, are unlikely to have any tribal affiliations with the enemies of the people (i.e. the enemies of the State). Therefore, State officers need those gold-standard medical insurance policies that can be relied on to find doctors and hospitals to take care of band-aids in faraway lands. No, the law will not be changed if the law is likely to lead to anarchy and what could be more anarchic than the Governor of Bomet, who spent almost a billion shillings on healthcare in 2014/2015, being asked to have his little boo-boo taken care of by a clinician in a health facility that likely has no running water while it could be dealt with by a surgeon in South Africa while the Governor stares at the Table Mountains?

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