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Daily Nation : February 26th 2014
DAILY NATION Wednesday February 26, 2014 Opinion 13 NATIONAL INTEREST | Ng’ang’a Mbugua We must not lose momentum if goal to improve Kenyans’ lives is to be achieved has been faltering can be traced to public institutions that succumb to the temptation to regress. For instance, Kenya once had a cross-country train service that worked. That train is now the kind of stuff from which legends are made. Every town had public O garbage collection teams that were as predictable and regular as clockwork. These are now history. Where trash cans once stood in dignity, only mounds of trash are to be found. Most towns had scheduled council-run buses, not to mention parking meters. There are hardly any signs of that glorious past any more except for the odd-looking steel pipes that line some streets, forlorn reminders of a time when there was order in towns and cities. Now, some public hospitals have started regressing too, charging mothers fees for delivering babies. The managers argue that support services, such as ICU, are not covered under the government-funded programme. One would have thought that hospital managers appreciate the value of holistic treatment. If the hospitals need to raise extra money, they can first ask their ministry for it or charge New mothers share beds at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi. for other services. What is worrying in the emerging trend is not that some hospitals are charging mothers. The real danger lies more in the fact that this free service was introduced barely eight months ago. It means the programme is losing steam even before it clocks its first year. It is still too early to even get a clear picture of its overall impact. To ensure that the gains are not reversed, especially for the poor, there is a need to enhance policing of public hospitals to ensure that they do not turn back the clock of progress. If the Health Ministry — and the public — fail the test of vigilance, the price to pay will continue to be high because mothers who had been encour- ne of the reasons Kenya’s “grand march” on the road to progress aged to give birth in hospitals will start keeping away and, with time, this will have an impact on their health and that of their children. It will mean that children born at home and other not-so-ideal places will be at risk of poor health while their mothers will be exposed to life-threatening complications. Worse still, if a way is not found to record the births of these children, Kenya will have undocumented citizens who, like our grandmothers, will only know that they were born during the rainy season in the year of the contested election. Although the Cabinet sec- retary for Health, Mr James Macharia, says Kenya has made great strides in reducing child and maternal deaths in the recent past, a great deal more needs to be done to improve the quality of services offered in the maternity wings of public hospitals. For instance, the number of life-saving devices, such as incubators, remains deplorably low compared to the number of children delivered there, making it necessary for infants to share. The problem with this is that it can lead to crossinfection, where otherwise hale children contract communicable diseases from those they share incubators with. Now that the government is in the budget-making season, the Health ministry ought to prioritise such issues and make Parliament see the need to buy these and similar equipment in the next financial year. Similarly, there is a need to revisit the question of the welfare of doctors, nurses and other staff in public hospitals. Cases of doctors quitting the public service or offering poor services to patients because they are unhappy with their employer have been on the rise. Job dissatisfaction can lead to grave consequences especially in instances when doctors neglect patients as part of pay protests. Health professionals need to be reminded that they have a sacred duty to protect lives to the best of their ability. It is part of their calling. In the final analysis, the goal should be to improve the health of the citizens in the hope that this will lead to an increase in their wealth and that of the nation. The future of the nation rests on the health of the children being born today and the ability of their mothers to nurture them into responsible and productive adults. If this is compromised be- cause of a charge levied on the poor, there is a risk of burying national interest in the grave of short-term expediency. firstname.lastname@example.org Blescohouse School pupils, Nakuru, during a computer lesson. COMMON HERITAGE | Andreas Peschke ildlife crime has reached crisis point. Illegal trade in ivory has more than doubled since 2007. The poaching of rhinos has increased fiftyfold. Their horn, selling for thousands of dollars a kilo, is now worth more than gold. In 2013, at least 22,000 elephants were killed in Africa by poachers. Millions of animals are killed every year. The alarming rise in illegal slaughter The time to stop wildlife crime is now W We must not wait any longer. A concerted global effort is required. If we do not act now, our and trade of endangered animals is cause for deep concern. March 3 will be the first International World Wildlife Day. We should mark it by taking action. Illegal trade in wildlife is a serious crime against the natural heritage of humankind. Its escalation comes at severe economic, social, and environmental cost. It drives corruption, hampers sustainable economic development, and undermines the rule of law. Organised wildlife crime threatens the livelihoods of communities that depend on natural resources. Wildlife crime has also become a serious security threat because those involved are paramilitary gangs associated with crime syndicates or terrorist groups. The proceedings of the illegal trade often end up in the hands of armed militias and terrorists like Al-Shabaab. The problem of smuggled animal deriv- atives is, therefore, more than just a major challenge to conservationists. Eradicating children may know elephants or rhinos only from history books. illegal trade in wildlife is a cross-cutting issue with global relevance in many areas. The international community must work together to combat wildlife crime as a threat to our common global heritage. We welcome the outcome of the End Wildlife Crime conference in London. High-ranking representatives from 46 states and the United Nations, including delegates from Vietnam and China, agreed on key actions against wildlife crime. We must support states in Africa and elsewhere to effectively fight wildlife crime. We must also dry up the markets of poached products all over the world and particularly in the Far East. The fight against wildlife crime must be taken to the highest political level. In June, the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi will discuss international efforts to stop illegal trade in UNFAIR PUNISHMENT. On February 19, Nairobi wildlife. Germany will push for concrete actions to protect endangered animals and prevent poaching. The fight against illegal trade in wildlife is a priority of Germany’s international policy. In 2014, it will contribute 240 million euros towards nature reserve management in Africa. A significant portion of these funds goes into projects directly tackling wildlife crime and its root causes. One of the programmes that the German Government supports is the Bouba Ndjida National Park area in Cameroon, where more than 300 elephants were massacred in 2012. German private organisations are complementing the efforts by the German Government. In Kenya, Nabu, a German NGO, recently set up a fund to support the families of rangers killed in service to prevent poaching. One thing is clear: We must not wait any longer. The time for action to save wildlife is now. If we do not act, our children may know elephants or rhinos only from history books. Concerted global effort is required. Ger- many firmly stands by Kenya and other African countries in their wildlife protection efforts. It is our common heritage and joint responsibility. The writer is the German ambassador to Kenya. resident Dorothy Shivere says, her water supply (account No. 1314007) was disconnected despite having a credit of Sh933 and always being punctual in paying her bills. She called customer care and was promised that she would be reconnected the following day, but nothing happened. By February 24, she still had no water. “What am I supposed to do? Why should I be punished for doing the right thing?” Her contact is email@example.com. DELAYED DOCUMENTS. Could there be a car- tel at the Motor Vehicle Registrar’s department at the Kenya Revenue Authority headquarters in Times Tower, Nairobi, which deliberately delays the processing of applications for logbooks and other documents for its own gain? Geoffrey Njenga asks. In October last year, Geoffrey says, he applied for a change of ownership in his logbook, paying the requisite charges. To date, he has not received it. His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. CRIME WAVE. Who will curb the mounting crime rate at Uthiru 87 on the western outskirts of Nairobi? asks Miriam Kimura, adding that “gunshots rend the air almost daily”. With crime more rampant in Kiambu County than in Machakos, which recently acquired over 100 police patrol cars, Miriam feels it is the former that needs more such vehicles. “Security personnel are doing their best, but are handicapped by lack of transport. Governor William Kabogo should address this issue.” Her contact is email@example.com. Have a secure day, won’t you! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Watchman POB 49010, Nairobi 00100 Fax 2213946 THE CUTTING EDGE BY THE WATCHMAN POWERING THE LAPTOPS. Has the govern- ment factored into the budget for the school laptops project money for the purchase of electricity generators, given the frequent power interruptions in many parts of the country? asks Taabu Tele. With most of the schools in the rural areas not connected to the national grid, he adds, failure to charge the laptops will mean no lessons. Lack of a reliable power back-up, he warns, will see the laptop project handicapped even before it is launched. His contact is email@example.com. NOISY NUISANCE. After a long day at work, the last thing Nairobi resident Kyalo Muasya expects is to have his eardrums assailed by the noise in matatus in the name of music. Sadly, this is what he must endure every evening, and it is not peculiar to his route. Pleas to the drivers to lower the volume, he adds, invariably fall on deaf ears and many commuters will just take the nuisance lying down. “Where is Nema to enforce the law on loud music in matatus or ban it altogether like in Tanzania?” His contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. SHAME OF BAD ROADS. Thika Town has some of the worst roads among all the urban centres, says Ceasarine Nkatha, disappointed that instead of fixing them properly, all the Kiambu County leadership is interested in is increasing taxes and introducing new levies. Where some attempt has been made, it has been poor, as the workers just poured soil into potholes, which easily got washed away even after a drizzle. “We need a permanent solution to this problem,” she demands. Her contact is ceasarine.nkatha@ gmail.com.
February 25th 2014
February 27th 2014