The media often report that a student had either died from medical negligence or committed suicide at school.
In my high school days, a student would be taken to hospital only if they were on the verge of dying from their illness, depending on the complaint.
While training for cross-country competitions, some would faint, vomit and generally become disoriented, yet the teachers responsible would punish them, claiming that they were malingering.
By the end of the term, such students became sicker and some ended up dead.
As parents, especially those of students joining Form One, accompanied their children to school this month; one of their biggest worries was the young ones’ health.
They leave their children under the care of teachers, some of whom forget that they are responsible for the youngsters’ well-being.
Teachers become the students’ parents away from home. They ought to make the school environment homely and a safe place to grow intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
In most schools, especially the private ones, medical officers are unqualified. A student suffers severe abdominal pains accompanied by diarrhoea and vomiting. At the school’s sanatorium, the ‘doctor’ administers painkillers.
The student faithfully takes them without question because one, school rules state that students are not to question medical officers in whatever circumstances.
And failure to adhere to that would lead to suspension or even expulsion. So the student struggles to concentrate in class, becomes weaker by the day due to dehydration and eventually succumbs to an illness that could easily have been diagnosed and treated.
If the bereaved family is wealthy, they might sue the school, but what about the less fortunate, who only see their parents once in a blue moon?
And even if one sued the school, would it resurrect the child or heal the family?
Girls who experience period cramps during their menstrual cycle suffer a lot. The pain, if not properly treated, can paralyse their ability to fully participate in school activities.
Female teachers will, most likely, order them to ‘man up’ and go to class. But a good doctor could find out the cause of the cramps, especially if severe, to catch early growth of fibroids or endometriosis, which can cause infertility in women.
Boys suffer more, especially because of the notion that they are the ‘sterner sex’ and hence, should not cry or show that they are ailing.
Society requires them to persevere in spite of the challenges they face.
The rot is also in the institutions of higher learning, especially the private ones. A “medical fee” is included in the fees but whether or not a student falls ill, there is no refund. So, where does the unspent money go?
If a student complains that they are unwell, nobody has the right to send them back to class without proper medication.
Every school sanatorium must have doctors, nurses and laboratory technologists who are registered by Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB).
Proper inspection should be done to ensure that the drugs administered to students are valid and quacks punished.
Parents must listen to their children’s complaints, especially about their health at school, which should be addressed in the parents-teachers association meetings.
Lastly, the authorities should rout the cartels in learning institutions.
Ms Tanui is a print media practitioner. [email protected]