Articles

Mumias West Faces Healthcare Crisis as Patients Forced to Pay for Treatment

By Seliphar Machoni

In a stark room at Bomani Level 4 hospital in Mumias West, a woman sits by her child’s bedside, her face filled with worry and despair.

The child, pale and weak, lies still, fighting against illness. However, amid the sterile surroundings, a sense of helplessness fills the air as doctors rush past, their attention focused elsewhere.

Josephine Wanjala’s heart sinks as she realises that her child’s treatment depends not on the severity of the illness but on the weight of her wallet.

In desperation, Josephine had turned to the public hospital, hoping that healthcare would be accessible to all. Yet, the harsh reality unfolds before her eyes – medical care comes at a price, one she cannot afford.

Her faith in the system shattered as she clung to her child, praying for a miracle that may never come.

With pain in her eyes, she says, “I have been here since morning, but no doctor is attending to my child because I don’t have money to pay for the services and the recording book.”

Josephine took her child to Bomani Level 4 Hospital with the hope that the treatment would be free since it is a public hospital. However, she was shocked when they asked her for money for treatment and medications.

“I was informed that they could not attend to my child unless I had Ksh 170 for the recording book and Ksh 2,000 for treatment. And on top of that, I am supposed to buy drugs because the hospital doesn’t have them. The only thing they gave me for free is a bed for my child to lie on,” she said.

Ayuma, who has been to the hospital several times, says that residents of Mumias seek medical attention in private hospitals since the only accessible public hospital, Bomani Level 4 Hospital, lacks medications, denies treatment without money, and does not accept NHIF.

“The situation at our level 4 hospital is worrying because it is the only hospital accessible to the residents. It is even worse for those residents who cannot afford private hospitals and do not have money to pay for their treatment at the level 4 hospital,” Ayuma said.

Ayuma called on the county government to intervene in the situation at the level 4 hospital, to rescue patients from paying for services that should be free, and to provide more medical practitioners.

“In private hospitals, we pay. In public hospitals, we pay. NHIF is not accepted. Additionally, the hospital is understaffed, with only two or three service providers attending to many patients, including those who have paid for services. The county government should intervene and provide medications, add more medical professionals and equipment to our hospital,” Ayuma explained.

The Kakamega County health chief officer responded to these grievances over the phone, stating that the level 4 hospital lacks sufficient funds to operate, leading the hospital to ask patients to pay.

“As a ministry, we are aware of the issues facing the level 4 hospital, and as a county, we are working to gather resources to provide financial support to the hospital. We promise to follow up and ensure access to medication in the hospital,” the Kakamega County health chief officer said, adding that the level 4 hospital is unregistered with NHIF-  a reason for not accepting NHIF from patients.

“Although the hospital is unregistered with NHIF, patient services should be affordable. As for recording books, the hospital should provide,” he stated, saying they were working diligently to hire more staff to accommodate the increasing number of patients in the hospital.

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