The Power of the Incumbency, and the Depoliticization of Healthcare in Kenya

by kenyantaboo

This morning, after a long leave of absence from Facebook, I blew the dusty shelves by posting the comment below.

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Tribalism is a touchy topic in Kenya, and I knew as much when I waded into this minefield without full protective gear on. I thank God I have reasonable Facebook friends – I sieve my friends based on the content they post online. The discussion was kept above the waters, I did not need to moderate. However, one comment drew my concern.

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Although I did not bring it down, it provoked me into researching on the Kikuyu, and the (perceived) benefits they may have received from birthing three out of four Kenyan presidents. Naturally, and by training, one of the indicators I would rummage for must always be from the health sector. I, therefore, pulled out the Commission for Revenue Allocation ‘Kenya County Fact Sheet (2011), and went straight to immunization coverage. And guess what I found out.

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The national average for fully immunized children under 1 year is 64%. Of the nine (9) GEMA (Gikuyu Embu Meru Association) strongholds, a staggering six (6) Counties find themselves below the national  immunization red line. That’s not something to brush away considering the outgoing Mwai Kibaki represented Othaya Constituency for  38 years – 28 years as MP and 10 years as both MP and President of Kenya. Yet the statistics dont lie. Nyeri County has the sixth-lowest immunization coverage out of 47 counties. It doesnt end there. And while Jomo Kenyatta and Uhuru Kenyatta‘s Kiambu county seem to have beaten the immunization trapdoor, Kiambu county survives by the thickness of a razor posting a county average of 64.8%.  Yet Jomo Kenyatta, in all his flamboyance and bravado set out on a personal mission to eradicate Kenya off the triple ills of ignorance, poverty and, wait for it, disease. Father and son’s combined efforts put up a pathetically abysmal show.

GEMA strongholds have politically been baptized as Kenya’s ‘vote baskets’. You would think turning in a good harvest for your tribal big-man would translate into them sending a measles jab your child’s way. They wont, and why should they? The contract begins and ends at the polling station. Whatever they do in between the five-year period has little to do with service delivery, or so the statistics say.

Still, vitriolic sentiments will be directed at the Kikuyus for enjoying uninterrupted dig at the national cake 15 years on the bounce, under Kenyatta, and 10 more consecutive years, under Kibaki. Will Kenyatta Jnr make the maligning worthwhile for his kinschildren? Early indicators are that he wont. The jury is still out.