A proposal by the Kenyatta National Hospital to build a new private hospital alongside the public one continues to draw mixed reactions.
The KNH board explains that the project is meant to boost its revenue, with the additional funds going to enhancing services at the existing hospital. That sounds reasonable at face value, but it still raises a few pertinent questions.
Could this be a tacit admission that the public hospital mode is no longer viable? Should Kenyatta, a hospital that has earned accolades over the years as a medical institution, not be consolidating that enviable position? Won’t setting up competition against itself in the same location end up diluting its services?
Since there is already a functional private wing at Kenyatta, wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to revamp this instead of building a new private hospital?
KNH board chairman Nicholas Gumbo says the proposed project will be fully funded by a private investor in the private-public partnership model.
Couldn't this turn out to be the proverbial case of the owner who eventually gets displaced by someone he invited? Who is this private investor and what is their real interest?
It is all very good for the KNH to want to raise additional revenue, but has a feasibility study been carried out?
It’s interesting to note that some doctors, who are key stakeholders, are opposed to the idea of setting up a parallel private hospital at Kenyatta, suspicious of the real motive.
Just like these doctors, we do not see how merely giving public land to a foreigner to set up this private hospital at KNH will improve Kenyans’ access to high quality medical care.
This is the role the KNH can effectively play with increased funding to enhance its capacity in expert and support personnel, facilities and infrastructure instead of venturing into risky investments.