Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), the country’s largest referral facility, has met opposition from the public in its bid to raise Sh430 million for a hostel.
Coming in the wake of what appears like a cancer crisis, KNH announced it will be soliciting for funds to put up an accommodation hall for cancer patients who travel long distances to seek treatment in Nairobi.
The hospital has called on people of goodwill to help it raise funds to build a 140-bed hostel for cancer patients at a cost of Sh230 million. It also seeks an additional Sh200 million to support its operations at the hostel.
Many patients have died on queues as they wait for treatment. Others have slept on corridors as they await treatment that often comes too late.
“This hostel will be assisting the poor who have nowhere to live in Nairobi during treatment,” KNH Acting CEO Evanson Kamuri told the Nation on Wednesday.
“The project is a Wanjiku driven to help patients who don't have anywhere to sleep while seeking outpatient cancer services.”
The idea, he said, was developed by the hospital in conjunction with the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Kenyans have often contributed to such initiatives. Seven years ago, they raised funds for the hungry under the ‘Kenyans 4 Kenya’ initiative.
This call, however, comes at a time when senior government officials are facing corruption-related cases in court.
Could the call be a pointer to Kenya’s failed health system? Or does it imply that there is no alternative source of funding to finance key healthcare programmes?
“The government is already handling too many emergencies,” Dr Kamuri said.
“We wanted Wanjiku to participate and own the project, we already have a lot of positive feedback from the public.”
KNH has been allocated Sh14.4 billion in the 2019/20 budget.
Data from the American Cancer Society showed that 29 per cent of patients missed or had cancer treatment delayed due to lack of accommodation and transport to and from KNH.
Cancer treatment in Kenya is, by policy, (supposed to be) offered at a subsided rate at KNH.
Lack of accommodation makes it difficult for most patients, who are referred from the counties, to honour appointments or even complete treatment schedules.
Initially, the hospital had announced that it would construct a 62-bed three-storey hostel at a cost of Sh150 million. The hostel’s construction was to start in 2017.
The hostel, was to be built with support from ACS.
In 2015, KNH in partnership with ACS, conducted a study on cancer patients attending outpatient clinic to determine barriers to treatment. These findings inspired the idea of a ‘Hope Hostel’.