Kenya, It’s Time!

Kenya, It’s Time!

These days, a pregnant woman in Kenya may feel a different kind of labor pains

when watching the news. In the past two weeks, we have witnessed the Bungoma

Hospital debacle and closing of Pumwani Maternity Hospital on national news. In

households across the country, people are voicing their frustrations at both health

care access and quality concerns particularly related to maternity care. So one

question remains- is it time, Kenya?


I have had the pleasure of hearing the Director General Vision 2030 Delivery

Secretariat, Mugo Kibati, speak on several occasions. He acknowledges the

challenge of getting people to envision that these changes—economic, social and

political– are not only possible, but they are coming. I must admit, when my

husband and I returned to Kenya in late 2011, our jaws dropped as we saw the

underpasses and overpasses, tunnels and the new Nairobi-Thika Highway. If you

had told us years ago that it was coming, we, like many Kenyans, would have said

“we’ll believe it when we see it.”


But isn’t that the challenge for us today? When it comes to high quality, patient-centered care– let’s say for maternity services given this week’s news’ headlines—

is not the greatest challenge to first envision what health care delivery and services

could look like? What it should look like?


Imagine a hospital where all staff, from the security guard and housekeeping to

nurses and physicians, smile and politely ask “How can I help you today?” When

every patient’s and concerned family members’ questions are answered and

concerns are addressed. When patients feel heard and understood, informed and

engaged in decisions related to their care, and confident they couldn’t get better

quality care anywhere else.


This is an exciting time for Kenya. With the devolution of health care delivery to

the county level, upheld by the social pillar of Kenya’s Vision 2030 on a national

level, the stage is set for comprehensive reform of health care services. Our job as

ordinary citizens is to envision, embrace and advocate for patient-centered care in

public and private hospitals across Kenya and to settle for nothing less. The time is



Dr. Stephanie Onguka is a Family Medicine consultant based in Nairobi, Kenya.


Morris Moses Foundation