The Blue Circle

It’s an important day and as it is almost getting to pass, I was weighing in on what to write about and realized I’d be doing my vocation a disservice by not penning this piece. It’s 14th November and all over the world we are marking World Diabetes Day (Ugonjwa wa Sukari). It’s an important day because all over the world we are having a challenge tackling the growing burden of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including diabetes. As this trend is continuing, it’s been noted that modifiable factors are the leading drivers. These include diet, physical activity, lifestyle among others. While it’s well known that we can live right and reduce our risk of suffering from these diseases, we still do the exact opposite of what we know. It’s paradoxical.

Over time it has been hammered to us that we need to avoid refined foods such as pizzas, cakes, fast foods; lower our alcohol intake; do routine exercises including walking or riding a bike to work where feasible etc. I’ll keep to it and urge us to do the basics right and spare ourselves the burden of having to be put on medication which may not restore our health back to us. Other than this I’ll delve to the main point of concern that’s affecting us as a nation when it comes to health and this will be the determinant of whether we can get the care we need or not.

Following the promulgation of the Kenyan Constitution in 2010, Health services were devolved to the 47 counties. This transferred the mandate of employing, deploying, remunerating and looking after the welfare of health workers. Over time, this has been a bitter pill to the public with industrial action in the form of strikes from time to time. On the other hand, health workers bear the brunt of the challenges as their welfare is at stake. From unemployment, delayed payments, pathetic working conditions to outright disregard of healthcare workers needs by the employers which risk the quality of care patients receive. With the recent discussions on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a constitutional moment that had been hoped for to correct the lapses in the 2010 Constitution, rather controversial alluded to a Health Service Commission (HSC) which was prospected to solve the human resource challenges in the sector. Unfortunately, the provisions in the report is proposing an amorphous commission with no authority to address the shortcomings we’ve had in the sector.

Today as we mark World Diabetes Day during the Year of The Nurse and Midwife, the focus was on the Nurses and Diabetes looking at the critical role nurses play in diabetes care. In line with this the inclination is on empowering nurses to contribute critically to improved diabetes care which is essential. This is a timely call and there is need to look at it not only from the lens of nurses but of health workers in general. Coming at a time when COVID-19 is killing more healthcare workers in the country, the question needs to be on what needs to be done to protect and safeguard the welfare of doctors. If this is done then even patients will be assured access to safe, effective and quality care from motivated and empathetic health workers.

How do we make this a reality? First, you need to live right by eating healthy, doing physical activities/ staying active, lowering your alcohol intake or avoiding alcohol altogether, complying with your medication if you are on treatment. Second, you can speak up for the establishment of a Constitutional Health Service Commission that’ll have power to effect changes in the management of human resources for health. Finally, you need to take care of yourself to protect others from COVID-19 and reduce the burden of disease so that we defeat this scourge.

It’s my hope you’ll commit to do something with this information and at the least take an option of the three I have given above. Let me know what you commit to do in the comments section below.

Diabetes care is part of healthcare. How about we commit to improve access to care for all and improve diabetes care in the process?

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