What are parents doing to enhance their children’s health care?
The cold season is finally here and everyone seems to be more concerned with how long it will last.
This is because August is associated with short rains.
But I guess that our negligence in tending the environment has resulted in the current unpredictable weather patterns being experienced in the country
In this article, I choose to focus on how these weather patterns have an effect on the health of our children and we all need to be put into consideration
Current Child Health Care Situation
In the Northern part of the country, we have children die of either hunger or malnutrition, in the other parts of the country, there has been a notable increase in the number of children visiting hospitals with a cold
That said and done, our health care system seems incapable of responding adequately the health care needs of children in this country
Why do I say this?
Most of our health facilities are not adequately prepared to attend to our children If and when they fall sick. Hence the reason why parents are forced to spend close to 2 hours in a hospital whenever they take their children for medical attention
Child Health Care: Expensive for Those Without Insurance
I feel for those parents who do not have a medical cover. This is because most of these hospitals never seem to have different drugs that can be prescribed for a certain disease with variations in their pricing. As such most of the parents who visit these hospitals end up coughing a lot of money to buy the 1st line drugs prescribed by the health care provider.
Case in point is Gertrude’s children hospital. This hospital specializes in prescribing 1st line treatment regimes to children suffering from colds without factoring in issues of resistance. The problem is that these drugs are never just prescribed to one child, but to all those children presenting with similar symptoms on any given day
For those who’ve gone to this hospital with a child having a cough or a cold, you will notice that several parents will be given augmenting (a very strong antibiotic), plus some nasal drops. One is thus left wondering if the facility is really adequately stocked with all the required drugs, or those attending to patients on any given day are always given instructions on which drug is to be prescribed by them.
Child Health Care: Existing Infrastructure Not Favorable To Children
The health care industry in Kenya provides fertile ground for business. As such we have seen an influx in health care facilities across the country. This has led to the need for major private hospitals to decentralize their services/facilities by setting up satellite clinics.
Most of these hospitals, especially Nairobi have opened health care outlets in the heavily populated estates. While this move is welcomed by many, it has in my view resulted in compromising in the quality health care given, especially to children
I say this because most of these health outlets are staffed with interns or general practitioners to whom we entrust the lives of our children. Most of these staff do not know how to do a head-to-toe examination a prerequisite for any doctor attending to a child under 3 years.
Some of these health care outlets do not have well equipped laboratories, this in turn means that for children who require such services, their parents have to make several trips to the main hospital before their children are attended to
As such we have heard of cases of children presenting with a cold being given more than 2 drugs or parents having to seek a second opinion from a different hospital when their children fail to respond to drugs given.
Child Health Care: Prevention Efforts Still wanting
To add onto the existing infrastructural gaps, most of the child health care facilities that are privately owned have commercialised disease prevention vaccinations, making it very expensive for those parents who are unable to attend public health facilities for the same.
Let me give you a comparison of the fee charged by one private hospital for the basis KEPI vaccines
Pneumonia, Polio, DPT-in a public hospital, these can be accessed at no cost; while in a private facility one has to pay (Kshs 800 for each for this x the number of doses)
Vitamin A- in private hospitals one is required to pay Kshs 200 for this when the same can be bought over the counter at less than Kshs 50
In drought prone areas, the government has not made efforts to stock health facilities there with oral rehydrating salts for children. As such most children suffer from dehydration for whatever reason, but cannot rely on the existing health care supplies.
Child Health Care: Parents Role
Instead of parents relying heavily on the health care needs of their children, they should during this cold season take the following precautionary measures
- Dress their children warm
- Keep their children from consuming cold drinks
- Use natural remedies like lemon, honey, garlic whenever their children develop a cold.
- Educate their children on why they need not play in dusty environments
- Provide their children with a balanced diet to boost their immunity
- Ensure that their children know the importance of diseases prevention through proper hygiene, e.g. hand washing
In closing:Investment in Child Health Care is a Must Do
Every child has a right to proper health care.
It’s high time we realised that our children are our future and as such make the necessary arrangements to boost up the existing child health care systems in our country