I’ve not been feel­ing too well lately, please vote my (un­born) son for MP

The East African - - OPIN­ION -

For sev­eral months, I have been nurs­ing this se­cret fear that from East Africa, only Kenya and Rwanda will have a re­port worth talk­ing about to present at the Global Con­fer­ence on Pri­mary Health Care in As­tana, Kaza­khstan on Oc­to­ber 25-26.

Forty years ago, when both Pres­i­dents Paul Kagame and Uhuru Keny­atta were in high school, the first In­ter­na­tional Dec­la­ra­tion on Pri­mary Health Care was made in Al­matyin Kaza­khstan on Septem­ber 12, urg­ing all coun­tries to take ur­gent ac­tion to en­sure universal ac­cess to pri­mary health care. As the world con­verges on Kaza­khstan to take stock next month, the re­port card for Kenya and Rwanda al­ready shows pass­ing grades.

In my un­der­stand­ing and in plain English, a so­ci­ety has at­tained universal ac­cess if most of its peo­ple can get med­i­cal treat­ment for their ail­ments with­out its af­fect­ing their fi­nan­cial sta­tus. In other words, health­care should not af­fect your wal­let if there are systems to en­sure that you get treated re­gard­less of your fi­nan­cial sta­tus. The op­po­site is where a per­son has to forgo other ne­ces­si­ties like ed­u­ca­tion, food, rent or even sav­ings to get med­i­cal treat­ment for them­selves or de­pen­dents.

Kenya and Rwanda al­ready have their na­tional health in­surance schemes up and run­ning and can show the world how their cit­i­zens can ob­tain treat­ment with­out first sell­ing off valu­ables or in­cur­ring debts. Pres­i­dents Keny­atta and Kagame have al­ready been show­ered with ac­co­lades by WHO for their ef­forts in this di­rec­tion. And now like an ath­lete who surges from be­hind and over­takes the whole pack in the fi­nal lap, Uganda is set to beat the other East African states with a solid re­port to make in Kaza­khstan next month. Thanks to the cre­ativ­ity of our leg­is­la­tors, we can now con­fi­dently state that we guar­an­tee med­i­cal care for a block of 1,000 cit­i­zens.

These one thou­sand or so cit­i­zens are the par­ents of our MPS, who will now be cov­ered by a tax-funded in­surance pol­icy. Ap­plause! This now com­pletes the pro­vi­sion of cra­dle-to-grave care, hav­ing been back­dated to be­fore the MPS were even con­ceived. Not even those Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries can beat us in pri­mary health­care now. Our par­lia­ment is al­ready pro­vid­ing nurs­ery fa­cil­i­ties for leg­is­la­tors and staff with ba­bies.

Then the MPS are of course cov­ered for their re­fer­rals abroad too. A proposal to pro­vide this ser­vice for them even af­ter they lose their seats or re­tire was al­ready passed. They also se­cured burial ex­penses from the tax­payer af­ter they die. And now this: Their par­ents! It is a kind of ret­ro­spec­tive pre­na­tal care for the MPS. A world first.

And Ugan­dans should not be­grudge their lead­ers. Ev­ery good pol­icy must start some­where. Al­though Ugan­dans have been cry­ing out for a na­tional health pro­gramme, which fails to start ev­ery fi­nan­cial year, start­ing off small scale is one way of start­ing, with the MPS' par­ents. Start­ing with ev­ery­body would spread the re­sources too thin to have im­pact. Uganda's del­e­ga­tion to Kaza­khstan next month can walk with their heads high.

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