You are standing at the stage (Kenyan for Bus Stop)… It is a few minutes past 7am… you’ll certainly be late again if you don’t catch the next Mathree to work… As fate would have it, there are no mats (short for matatu) on the road; probably caught up in traffic after their first round… A crowd has gathered at the stage, everyone mumbling and grumbling about how the Matatu Sacco should add more buses on the route! From a distance, you spot two matatus racing towards your stage to get the advantage of picking up more passengers than the other… The mumbles turn into excitement, as the ‘late’ passengers now shift gears in readiness for the potential push-and-shove in the scramble for entry into the bus…The trailing bus manages to overtake the leader and, in a miscalculation of sorts, the driver fails to hit the brakes in time… misses your foot by a whisker, but 3 other persons in your crowd aren’t as fortunate. Excitement turns into horror and mumbles transform into screams of pain and agony! Yet another accident, and another ‘statistic’ about lives shortened on the roads of Kenya!
A tale of poor road crash victim response measures
According to WHO, at least 8 people die every single day as a result of road accidents in Kenya! 18 hours is yet another case of the numerous road crash survivor stories; clinging on to their fragile lives, as if in an inevitable death sentence.
“Before meeting his unfortunate demise in an overcrowded Kenyatta National Hospital, Alex had been turned away from Kikuyu Mission Hospital and Nairobi Women’s Hospital allegedly for lack of bed space. Coptic Hospital had bed space but because he could not raise the Kshs. 200,000 deposit they required, he was turned away a third time.”
The likelihood of surviving the trauma and injury after a road crash incident in Kenya is grossly hampered by the limiting response time of first-responders. After getting attention from emergency responders, the next hurdle to your life will likely be the financial implications in hospitals’ admitting and service provision to patients in Kenya.
18 hours: More than a film, more than a story!
If Alex’s predicament and unfortunate demise was a life lesson, then it taught us not to sit back in the face of injustice! By standing up to discriminatory limitations to access for emergency medical services, 18 hours is more than just a film. 18 hours should be a rallying call to all Kenyans to demand better health care services from the policy makers. For 18 long hours, a human being was told off and turned away from access to potential life saving actions… although attributed to his inability to raise the mandatory ICU admission fees, Alex’s story is a tale of a healthcare industry on its death bed. At the moment, Kenya is experiencing a Nurses’ Strike that has lasted 100+ days without resolution. This was immediately preceded by the longest industrial action by Kenyan doctors and pharmacists.
As if the story never ends, Kenya’s clinical officers have themselves declared commencement of their own strike a few days ago. 18 hours is an indictment to Kenya’s political leadership and policy makers… 18 hours is a voice for the voiceless! Until we all have access to affordable universal healthcare, 18 hours is all our lives!
You just survived being crashed by a matatu on your way to work, the other 3 victims are probably making calls to their families in frantic efforts to raise funds for hospital admission.
18 hours: Window to a film industry that has come of age in Kenya.
Directed by Njue Kelvin, this film is definitely headed to the box office, and take the world by storm. From the build-up on social media, the sets, the story, the direction and the execution, 18 hours would hardly pass for a budget film. The quality in the set design and execution, depicts the exponential growth trajectory that is currently prevailing upon the Kenyan industry. We are now not only telling our own stories, but telling them loudly, proudly, and with lots of courage and confidence! I cant wait to go see the film’s premier… and you should get tickets to its screening! Join the change movement!
Did I mention that I’m cast in the film? Well, I am.