Editorials

Tie KNH to referrals but revamp smaller hospitals

knh

Entrance to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • A new system restricting access to referral hospitals is out and will be piloted in Nairobi.
  • Under it, referral and teaching hospitals across the country will be closed to walk-in patients, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services chief Mohamed Badi has said.
  • That is how such big hospitals should work, but they do not.

A new system restricting access to referral hospitals is out and will be piloted in Nairobi. Under it, referral and teaching hospitals across the country will be closed to walk-in patients, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services chief Mohamed Badi has said.

That is how such big hospitals should work, but they do not.

Under the arrangement, the giant and ever-busy Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) will remain a referral and teaching facility, the official said. Although this will be replicated as a policy across Kenya, it is KNH that comes to mind and using it as the “guinea pig” as Maj-Gen Badi says, makes sense.

KNH should stop admitting walk-in patients in July, according to the plan. Already Level 2 and Level 3 hospitals are being upgraded in Nairobi while Mama Lucy will become a Level 5 facility to absorb the rising numbers of patients in the city.

Kenya would benefit more from KNH as a referral facility than the load it is carrying today where diseases that can be treated at smaller facilities end up there, causing a gridlock

However, people run to KNH because the smaller facilities within the estates have been neglected in terms of personnel, facilities, and medicines. So, they are basically buildings but not hospitals. And that is why it is laudable that Sh2 billion is set aside to build and revamp the neighbourhood facilities.

This decongestion makes sense for KNH because it will attract patients from across the east African region thanks to its rich pool of specialists.

This kind of wealth ought to be tapped such that Kenya benefits when people travelling to foreign countries like India, parts of Europe, and the US can be accommodated at Kenyatta National Hospital.

When KNH will have the space, the facility should be able to upgrade since its budget will be directed to delicate areas requiring key facilities and training to ensure that diseases taking Kenyans outside the country can be treated here.

It will be cheaper and the revenues can be channelled into improving services.

Through this new policy, KNH should turn Kenya into a preferred health tourism destination to deliver more exchange programmes, collaborations, jobs and lift economic growth.

Nonetheless, the new plan will only be worth the paper it is written on when Kenyans can get quality healthcare at the smaller facilities. Barring people from the referral facilities while they suffer at derelict estate and neighbourhood hospitals will be unacceptable.