- The few privileged enough to have a medical insurance cover have some cushioning, but it’s never enough.
- Kenyans who have no choice about seeking treatment for illnesses or injuries often end up having to sell off prized property to foot their bills.
As debate rages on whether doctors' fees should be reduced it's a sad story for patients countrywide who have had to stay away from hospital or pay an arm and a leg to access healthcare. 27-year-old Moses Karonei has been bed-ridden in hospital for two years, nursing severe injuries that paralysed him following a road accident near Kipsitet trading centre on the Kericho-Kisumu highway.
Other than the excruciating pain and immobility that has confined him to his ward bed, the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) expert is deeply worried about the growing hospital bill, which has now hit Sh7 million.
Coming from a humble background, Mr Karonei, who was newly employed at the time, was his family’s hope.
The unfortunate incident dealt a blow to his parents, who had to sell a portion of the family land to raise part of his medical fees after his insurance company refused to foot the bill.
Mr Karonei, who is a resident of Tinderet constituency in Nandi county, narrated what happened after he was knocked down by a speeding car while riding a motorcycle from Muhoroni Sugar Company where he worked.
He was first admitted at Siloam Hospital in Kericho County on December 15, 2016.
“Everything happened so fast. I was rushed to hospital unconscious. I remained in a coma for close to three months,” he said.
At Siloam Hospital, Mr Karonei was immediately taken to theatre for reconstructive surgery which lasted 13 hours.
Dr Patson Kubuta, a resident doctor, said that the patient had extensive tissue loss, especially from the left elbow and on the lower back, and multiple deep lacerations on the head and face.
He added that Mr Karonei had been taken to theatre for multiple surgical debridements, daily wound cleaning and dressing, and physiotherapy sessions.
“Cervical spine X-ray and CT scans showed a burst fracture of the C-5, with a spinal compression of the same segment, leading to paralysis of both upper and lower limbs. Now he is unable to walk,” said Dr. Kubuta, who added that the patient had also suffered a wrist drop on the left hand.
By the time he left Siloam Hospital in December 2017, Mr Karonei had accrued a bill of Sh3 million.
Multiple fundraisers organised by his parents, relatives, friends and well-wishers offset slightly over half of the amount, and he promised the hospital that he would pay the rest in a year.
He was moved to Memorial Hospital in Eldoret where he underwent more surgeries.
“I had corrective, reconstructive and plastic surgeries to seal off a wound at the back, and a broken hand. I now use a motorised wheelchair,” he said.
Mr Karonei now has to undergo physiotherapy to help him out of the partial paralysis that confines him to a wheelchair, but the rising cost of medical fees frightens him.
He has rented a house close to the hospital to avoid spending money on a ward bed. He visits the hospital for his appointments every other day.
“I am hopeful that one day, my life will return to normal so I can advance my career and offset the huge medical debts that give my family sleepless nights,” said Mr Karonei.
Lydia Wangui, 39 and a mother of seven, was knocked down by a boda boda rider on March 17, 2017.
On that fateful day, Wangui, a resident of Gatei village in Gatundu North, had joined her husband Simon Njoroge in taking a walk to a nearby shopping centre to run a few errands.
She was hit by a rogue bodaboda operator who sped off and is yet to be found.