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Most private hospitals have cashed in on the government’s failure to provide quality and affordable services to reap millions out of the Kenyans in need.
FRUSTRATED by the ‘sickening’ health system characterised by a perpetual shortage of drugs and other crucial medical equipment in Kenyan public hospitals, Hussein Mohammed and Abdi Mohamed quit the public service as doctors and opted to start their own hospital to fill the gap. Driven by Thomas Carlyle’s saying that ill-health of the body or of mind is defeat, and health is victory, the duo in their late twenties have put up a multi-million ultra-modern medium hospital in Eastlands that is not only giving hope to the residents but greatly supplementing the government’s efforts of keeping Kenyans healthy.
“Where does one go from a world of insanity? Somewhere on the other side of despair, no, ours was to get to the other side of giving hope and living our dreams not to continue seeing patients die in our hands not because of professional inequities but because the government could not give us the needed equipment and medical supplies that could aid our work to restore life,” Abdi the Managing Director and one of the proprietors of Ladnan hospital now in its third month of operations said.
“As the name of the hospital – Ladnan drawn from Somali language to mean well being suggests we thought this area was insufficiently served when it comes to medical care, with only two high end private hospitals, and lately Mama Lucy Hospital and Pumwani Maternity as the only public hospitals serving an area with highest concentration of middle class population in Nairobi and we had to offer an extra amenity which offers not only quality but affordable health care and this is why we started this work, as the existing few facilities offer their services to high income clientele only,” added Hussein the hospital chief executive and one of the hospitals proprietors.
The idea of building their own hospitals and running it as a business venture was born in the University of Nairobi’s lecture halls in 2005 when the duo were second year medical students at the university. But earlier on the two had shared many other things like a common background in Mombasa, growing up in the same estate, though they went to separate primary schools and secondary schools they could meet every evening or on weekends to play together. “Our business friendship was brewed and emboldened further when we were in campus as at this moment we started dreaming of building business empire and straight on our first year at campus we started making some savings and investing the same in little business ventures here and there,” Abdi said.
In 1994 Abdi says the government published the Kenya Health Policy Framework Paper and the first National Health Sector Strategic Plan to cover the period from 1999-2004, and the second covering the period from 2005-2010, were published with a vision of providing quality health care that is acceptable and affordable to all, but when they were in school then and even now year 2012 access to medical health care is still a mirage, and the fewer hospitals especially the private ones that have the needed equipment and doctors they have taken advantage of government’s inability to avail universal medical care to all its citizens at their doorsteps to reap millions from helpless Kenyans.
Even in places where the government has tried by building hospitals, village dispensaries, it has failed terribly in staffing, equipping and supplying the amenities with the necessary medical necessities to make the buildings fully functional Abdi said. World Health Organizations statistics shows that the country faces a significant shortage of physicians, with only 4,500 with only 1000 working the public sector, and the number is quickly being eroded with migration of trained health workers from the public sector to higher paying positions in the private sector, or away from Kenya altogether, has made retaining qualified health personnel a persistent challenge according to Abdi which is compounding the health sector troubles.
“Upon completing my medical course I joined public service as a doctor and was posted to the Coast, at times we could miss insulin or prescribe some drugs which can never be found in the hospital this pissed me off and could not stand anymore images of desperate patients whom you cant help, and had to quit after a year of service and this is a replica in almost all public hospital where well trained doctors with excellent experience watch their patients die in their hands just because they lack the equipment and this has forced them out of the service because they feel they are unable to change the policy” he adds.
After resigning he refused to take up any job or accept offers to go abroad and offer his service but with Hussein who never joined the public service as he chose to do private practice started mobilising funds that could actualize their dreams of building a hospital. They approached donors who funded the setting up of the 50 bed capacity hospital located in Pangani on Nyambene Road off Juja Road, to serve Eastleigh, Huruma, Karioki, Mlango Kubwa and its environs.
The hospital has ultra-modern maternity, two operating theatres, and general wards, offering over 200 outpatient cases daily as well attending to numerous hospitals transfer cases both at inpatient and outpatient. “We have a 24h hour outpatient and inpatient service which is manned by qualified medical officers. Moreover we have a laboratory, pharmacy and radiology unit with x-ray and ultrasound service,” Abdi says.
The hospital has four doctors, and ten resident nurses; others are invited in on contract basis. Specialised doctors offering orthopaedic, gynae, and neuro services and consultants are called in on need be basis for reinforcement or offering highly specialised medicare on local arrangements and offers their services at a subsidised rate to make it affordable to the patients. “Ours is to serve the community as well make some reasonable profits therefore we have negotiated better terms on behalf of our patients and all consultants who come here offer their services at a cheap price with a clear sense that they are also giving back to society,” Hussein said.
More so the gastrologists and endoscopists offer their services at the hospital with their won equipments they come with and this the hospital says adds value to their business but as well offering highly specialised procedure to their patients at ‘rock-bottom’ prices. On average getting the services of gastrologists-a medical doctor who specializes in the study of the stomach, its structure, functions and diseases, endoscopists or conologists who carry advanced hospitals for ulcers and cancer detections costs on a minimum of Sh65, 000 in most hospitals whereas at Ladnan the services inclusive of all other fees are offered at Sh15,000.
The hospital unlike many others offers free immunizations, on all vaccines to children, and planning to roll out free annual medical caravans. Importantly, Abdi says the hospital will never turn away a patient because he has no enough money to pay the hospital bills arguing that health is a basic need and a right that every person should be given irrespective of his status in society.
The duo further called on the government to increase spending and investment in public health sector, so as to remain commitment to the Abuja Declaration that bound governments to ensure that health sector expenditure be raised to 15 percent of the total government expenditure, as well recruit and retain qualified manpower to enable realizations of the dream of providing universal health care to it all Kenyans. “Kenya belongs to us all and vision 2030 can only be achieved when the people are healthy to be able to produce therefore this role of provision of healthcare should not be left to the government alone, the private sector should chip in but not flees Kenyans,” Abdi said. Going forward the two are aiming to put up a world-class hospital that will stop Kenyans from traveling to India to seek medical attention.