Yvonne’s Take: I’m glad one MP wept, while another asked for a helicopter

How many harrowing tales have you heard about people who have survived COVID-19 or those who’ve lost the battle?

Most people now have a story to tell, either their own, or of a friend, or of a friend of a friend.

From the teacher in Nakuru who has tested positive 3 times since September, currently preparing for a fourth test, she has spent Ksh. 25,000 so far, to a family of 3, who spent a whopping Ksh. 750,000 on COVID-19 testing and hospital care. Mind you, they were not even in intensive care.

You have heard similar stories too, I am sure and not just at this time of a pandemic, but even before.

You have been involved in one WhatsApp group or another raising funds for a sick relative, friend, colleague to get treatment at a more advanced facility in Nairobi or even abroad in places like India.

We heard this week of doctors too, trying to raise Ksh. 300,000 for one dose of a drug for their colleague, to the endless search for an ICU bed, forcing a sick doctor to be moved from Eldoret to Nakuru while waiting for space in the ICU in Nairobi, to the search for air evacuation, whose cost at Ksh. 600,000 for that short flight to Nairobi was sadly out of reach for the family.

Speaking of choppers: MPs found themselves in a similar situation, following the death of one of their own, who moved from one health care facility to the next at a time of emergency.

Suddenly, the legislators walked in our shoes prompting Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi to request a helicopter, on standby, to evacuate MPs to a well- equipped hospital in case of an emergency. This helicopter, according to him should be accessible through a simple hotline.

That was not the only interesting thing to happen in the house ladies and gentlemen.

After hearing sad tales of doctors working in tough conditions with no medical cover, Seme MP James Nyikal wept: moved to tears by the shockingly sad stories.

I am glad he was moved because these are the tears Kenyans cry every day: from doctors, to their families and to all other Kenyans who have placed their faith in the government, and in the MPs they so dutifully line up to vote for every 5 years, to pass laws, approve budgets and hold their government to account, only to be failed by that very system.

I am glad that he wept, just like the many Kenyans who are one illness away from sheer poverty. I am glad he wept, just like the many Kenyans, who forego luxury to contribute to one fundraiser after the next for loved ones who cannot afford healthcare in this country or have to make the impossible choice between the next meal and the next dose of a life-saving drug.

I am glad he wept, just like the many doctors who have to re-use PPEs for up to 3 days, for the doctors who contract COVID-19, pay for their own treatment and care and go back to work upon recovery. I am glad he wept while appealing to the president to listen to the plight of doctors, being one himself.

You know what? I am also glad that he has now dried his eyes because, lest we forget, he was at one time the director for medical services in Kenya and knows too well the issues doctors were raising.

They arise from decades of neglect of their issues and of the healthcare sector in general. I am sure he is familiar with the Abuja Declaration of 2001, a pledge to allocate 15% of the annual budget to health care, a declaration Kenya signed up to.

I am also glad that MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi raised the issue of air evacuation of MPs. I am glad to inform him, that what we need is to ensure that all hospitals are well equipped to handle any emergency across the country.

I am happy to inform him that we have a hotline in place, the 719, and that we would be glad if he could check up on it to see if it works, if anyone answers the call, and what help and advice they offer to those in need of help during this pandemic.

I am also glad to inform him of his job, which would be to summon the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Health to answer any queries he may have about the hotline.

I am glad to inform MP Wanyonyi that it is his job to ask about the state of the hospitals that the late Murunga went to which were reportedly incapable of handling his emergency, rather than seeking privileges for MPs only.

I am also glad to inform him that he speaks, not for MPs, but for the people of Kwanza and for the people of Kenya, as part of the wider national assembly.

I am glad to inform him that his request is insensitive to the people of Kenya who dutifully pay their taxes and his salary.

When all is said and done, when they have cried their eyes out, like we do every day, and when they are done requesting for special privileges, that they will have to answer to us – the people.