Kenyatta Road’s lack of a public hospital a thorn in the flesh for residents

Kenyatta Road, Juja
Kenyatta Road, Juja

Kenya’s Vision 2030 Social Pillar seeks to provide all citizens with equitable, affordable, and quality healthcare.

One goal is to build level 4 hospitals in areas with long travel distances to healthcare facilities.

Kenyatta Road in Juja is one such area. The area’s lack of a public hospital sticks out like a sore thumb.

The nearest public facility

The nearest public health facility is the Gachororo Health Centre.

But it’s 7 kilometers away.

Gachororo Health Centre

The next “nearest” public hospitals are in Ruiru, Gatundu and Thika.

Cost of hiring a taxi

I met Dan Wanjohi, 42, a resident of Kenyatta Road.

“Just last week, I was called at night to help take a friend to the hospital. A taxi charged us Ksh.1,200 to Thika Level 5 Hospital. But because the taxi driver had to wait to take us back, we paid Ksh. 3,000.”

The cost is almost the same if you go to Ruiru or Gatundu.

“For Ruiru, it will cost you Ksh. 1,200 and Gatundu Ksh. 1,000. Matatus plying the Kenyatta Road to Gatundu cease operations as early as 9.00 pm,” he says.

“If you’re in the interior areas of Kenyatta Road, a taxi may refuse to come to you, citing terrible roads.”

Effect on businesses

Ann Wanjiru, 28, a saloonist, tells me she has to close her business when she has to attend a public hospital.

“On such a day, there is no income. Apart from the time I take to get to a public hospital, I meet long queues and a whole day ends up getting wasted.”

“It’s painful, but what do I do? If the hospital were nearby, I would take an hour or so, then return to my business.”

Private hospitals lack “seriousness”

Grace Atieno, 34, a stay-at-home mom, feels private hospitals lack the seriousness found in public hospitals.

“I had a miscarriage and went to a nearby private hospital. I got treated, but after 3 months, I started bleeding.”

“When I went back to the hospital, I was told I had a cyst, and they gave me medicine.”

“The bleeding didn’t stop.”

“I decided to go to Gatundu Level 5 Hospital. They referred me to Thika Level 5 Hospital for a body scan, and I was treated. The problem has never recurred. Public hospitals are serious and with mature, serious doctors.”

Cost of treatment

Getting medical care at private hospitals can be quite expensive. It increases the strain on households’ spending, already affected by tough economic times.

“When you go to a private hospital, you pay about Ksh. 200 consultation fee. Add to this the laboratory tests and the drugs, you’ll find that you’ll spend a minimum of Ksh. 2,000 in total,” says Ann.

“If you seek medical attention in a private hospital, you must be prepared to spend Ksh. 2,000 or more.”

“That’s a lot. Yet I can get the same services in a public hospital for a fraction of that cost,” she adds.

Reliance on chemists for treatment

A worrying trend is that people nowadays rely on chemists to seek treatment.

“They don’t care to think that the person behind the counter may not be fully qualified to diagnose their sickness, but will sell them medicine, anyway. They are in business,” says Dan.

It’s not all gloom with private hospitals

Private hospitals may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they have their advantages.

“You get all services under one roof. Doctor appointments, tests, and drugs. Plus, they have modern equipment,” says Brian Mutiso, 26, an IT specialist.

“Most public hospitals lack drugs, so you have to buy elsewhere. Most don’t have working equipment for carrying out body scans.”

“Besides, the long queues at public facilities are sickening,” he laments. “With private hospitals, I get speedy service.”

Call for a public hospital

The residents I talked to agreed on one thing — it’s time the government set up a public hospital on Kenyatta Road.

But not just a hospital, an equipped hospital.

“It wouldn’t make a difference if the hospital lacks drugs or key equipment,” says Dan.

More about Gachororo Health Centre

Gachororo Health Centre is a Level 3 hospital.

It’s located 7 km from Kenyatta Road. To get here, you take a Ksh 40 matatu to Highpoint, then a Ksh. 20 tuktuk or Ksh 50. bodaboda. A taxi will charge you between Ksh. 800-1,000.

Services in the hospital are free. You only get a small book at Ksh.15.

It offers most services except those needing a specialist, like eye, dental, and surgical cases.

Maternity is now a 24-hour service, and yes, expectant mothers can deliver here.

About the author

Lenny Kamwara Pic

Lenny is a content producer based in Nairobi, Kenya. A TV Production graduate from the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, KIMC.