BWIRE: The major problem at KNH is structural and system failures

Kenyatta National Hospital. [Photo/Courtesy]

In Summary

  • Depoliticize the hospital, get rid of tenderpreneurs at the facility, take staff through a thorough change management process and repackage the hospital.
  • What is happening at the KNH has very little to do with professional competence of the staff.
  • It’s unacceptable for the hospital to continue doing things in such a casual manner.

I have had a long relationship with the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), as a health writer and patient (I did a kidney transplant when donating to my son at the hospital), and I have a number of friends working at the facility. We need a serious professional efficient board and management at the facility, who must prioritize fully computerizing operations at the facility, enhancing working collaborations with other institutions and putting the patient at the heart of the hospital’s operations.

While individuals take advantage to help themselves through the hospital, the major problem at the KNH is structural and system failures. More importantly, depoliticize the hospital; get rid of tenderprenuers at the facility, take staff through a thorough change management process and repackage the hospital – its relation with partners has serious suffered globally.

As a patient, I went through the surgical processes at the hospital and as a stakeholder, I once participated in the development of the KNH’s earlier Strategic Plan and many times whenever I am visiting the facility, I interact with the staff. I have had the opportunity to listen to the institution’s workers contribute their views on how to improve the management and health services.

KNH staff are competent

What is happening at the KNH including mix-up in patient records and medical data, poor and/or lack of maintenance of equipment and detergents, frequent break downs in its online payment system, insecurity, poor administrative services among others are purely a creation on some people in the administrative wing of the hospital; it has very little to do with professional competence of the staff.

The institution has highly qualified specialists in any medical field you can mention and do wonderful work. They need support especially through improving the working environment, and procedures for doing things including staff placements, promotions, training, procurement of drugs/equipment, and more crucially, the patient data management.

Several attempts to reform the hospital have been frustrated by some staff and external people who have previously benefited from past inefficiencies including those in management. Each time there is a change of top management and or there is a crisis at the KNH, there is always a promise to reform and revitalize the facility. Reforms have been initiated many times, but the computerization of operations has always been the least in implementation. Services largely remain manual though in principle they ought and are reported to be harmonized and computerized.

It’s unacceptable for the hospital, supported by a private wing, University of Nairobi’s School of Health sciences and the Kenya Medical Training College and an array of highly specialized and trained personnel to continue doing things in such a casual manner. The hospital must develop MoUs with these sister institutions to maximize efficiency of service delivery, including re-evaluating its relationship with the KNH police post.

A lot has been in done to improve services while at the same time reining in corruption, theft of drugs and equipment, non-maintenance of facilities, staff absenteeism and cheating, moonlighting and improving staff morale. There is still need to do a re-orientation of some of the staff.

Otherwise, the KNH is a great place and is doing great work, it just needs our support including asking the government to increase budgetary allocation to the facility to enable it serve Kenyans better. The health facilities within the County government of Nairobi including Mama Lucy Hospital must be made to function to ease the pressure on KNH.

Bwire works at the Media Council of Kenya and is a media trainer

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Story By Victor Bwire
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