Sunday, July 31, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Atlanta, Georgia

July 15, 2011

The United States, once the envy of many countries and star attraction for many in the Third World dreaming for that big break in their lives is today turning into the land of misery and nightmares for Americans and immigrant workers alike.

Every single day, television networks are awash with senseless murders, broken homes, street families, lack of healthcare for 80% of its population and of course loss of homes commonly referred to as foreclosures. Here, when banks repossess mortgages because owners have defaulted in payments due to loss of jobs, they call it foreclosure.

In the Healthcare department, it has been a sad tale for the great American nation. The one essential and basic requirement that has been implemented with relative ease by poorer countries like Cuba next door, Canadian neighbors in the North and tinier European nations such as Norway has eluded the world’s super power for 250 years. Attempts by the Clinton administration in the early ‘90s to give Americans universal healthcare came a cropper. Corporate America that controls the healthcare industry like pharmaceuticals and insurance industries would not allow it.

Now almost 20 years later another Democratic president, Barack Obama successfully got the Healthcare Bill passed that he quickly signed into law. However, hardly before the presidential ink dried on the paper that made universal healthcare legal, a group of Republicans regrouped and started lobbying for the repeal of the same law that would have guaranteed many jobless Americans proper medication. Conservatives- mainly rich Americans argue that Obama’s socialist policies will force them to shoulder the burden of caring for poor Americans.

Healthcare politics in America has its parallels in Kenya. For the last nine years, ministers Charity Ngilu and Anyang’ Nyongo’ have battled with parliament and trade unions to provide universal healthcare through National Hospital Insurance Fund with revised minimal contributions from workers of Kenya. However, the very people who are fully covered by private sector insurance companies to the tune of Ks 10 million a year have never seen the need to spread the service to cover the people they represent.

In the front line opposing universal healthcare scheme in Kenya have ironically been the top leadership of trade unions who have opposed it on the basis that it will be a burden to their members. Now teachers are stuck with Ksh 36,000 a year as medical allowance yet when they get admitted to a reasonable hospital, this amount can only pay two nights bed unless of course they go to Kenyatta National Hospital or a rundown provincial or district hospital where they are likely to share a bed with another sick stranger or worse still, sleep on the floor with hardly any medication for days.

As politicians in the USA and Kenya continue to bite their nails over universal healthcare, doctors, investors and other healthcare providers in Kenya are emulating their American counterparts. Doctors’ plazas and medical laboratories are springing up at every corner in up market suburbs of Nairobi to cater for up market clientele. Government inaction has created a vacuum that investors have grabbed with very minimal marketing input.

In the USA, healthcare has taken a life of its own. Every state government competes for the best and most advanced teaching hospital and medical research institute.

Take prostate cancer care and treatment providers in Atlanta alone, the RC Cancer Centers will make your stay in America easier and more affordable. If you are coming out of Atlanta, they will offer you opportunity for free or discounted lodging and will offer a great support network that will make you feel at home no matter how far you have travelled.

Courtesy of the American Cancer Society, foreign patients may stay at the Winn Dixie Hope Lodge for free while receiving treatment. The Lodge offers private spacious suites for couples. It is located near the RC Cancers Center Campus and features amenities such as washers, dryers, gardens, a computer room, community kitchen and free transportation to and from treatment.

To ease patients’ financial burden, RC Cancer Centers have pre-negotiated lower rates with some local hotels

Each Tuesday, patients gather for a catered dinner followed by a presentation given by one of RC’s expert physicians. This helps patients become more informed about prostate cancer and what the center is doing to cure the disease. Every lecture is followed by a Q&A session

With this touristic approach to the treatment of patients, it is not a wonder that those who have access to this knowledge will most probably prefer to travel to the USA for cancer treatment.

A visit to several doctors’ clinics and medical laboratories revealed one thing: healthcare service providers are highly trained Public Relations professionals. They are courteous, friendly and ready to help as much as they can. There are no sullen and depressed faces at the front office, the kind that we are accustomed to in our medical facilities.

We can achieve this level of patient care if only we invested more in training and welfare of our healthcare providers and the environment in which they operate. Facilities, good packs, tools and training go hand in hand. We cannot afford to ignore one without compromising our healthcare standards.