October 04, 2012
By TOM ODULA Associated Press
Doctors in Kenya's public hospitals on Wednesday October 3 spent their 17th day on strike to protest the dilapidated state of public health care. Emergency rooms in some of Kenya's public hospitals frequently don't have gloves or medicine, and power outages sometimes force doctors to use the light from their phones to complete a procedure.
Kenya's government fired 1,000 of the 2,000 striking doctors last week despite a shortfall of skilled medical practitioners. The government had promised to implement reforms in health care last year after doctors walked off the job and held protests.
At least two patients have died due to lack of treatment since the strike started, union officials say, but the government claims health facilities are coping well without the striking workers.
Attempts to hold talks this week with officials from the Ministry for Medical Services failed, prompting the doctors to flood social media with tell-all stories about deplorable conditions in public hospitals.
"Tuberculosis patients meant to be isolated yet they are sharing beds in the corridors meant for walking which have been converted to wards," Dr. Stanely Aruyaru said in a Twitter posting.
"It is a pity for someone to survive an accident but die in hospital because there is no blood, no Intensive Care Unit, no cervical collar, no splints and now no doctor," said Dr. Allan Kochi from the Nyeri provincial hospital in the Central Kenya. Dr. Nelly Bosire, the union representative, confirmed that the postings were authentic.
Dr. Fredrick Oluga, told The Associated Press how in mid-August he was called in to help remove the placenta from a woman that was stuck after she had just given birth. Oluga said that that when he arrived there was no electricity at the Vihiga district hospital in western Kenya and the standby generator did not have fuel. And the hospital did not have gynecological gloves for the procedure, he said.
"The patient was bleeding profusely and I had to act quickly so the nurse pointed light from her phone for me to conduct the procedure," Oluga said. He said twice this year he had to use light from a mobile phone and that such incidents are fairly common across the country.
Health care has been in a deplorable state in Kenya for a long time, but the country's poor — and many in Kenya — think the state of health care is the norm, said Bosire, the Nairobi branch chairwoman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacist and Dentist Union.
Bosire said middle class and rich Kenyans do not realize the problems in public health facilities until they are forced to seek treatment there when treatment in private hospitals becomes too expensive. Public hospitals charge far less than private hospitals, where politicians and top government officials seek treatment, Bosire said.
The two top health officials in the country, Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyongo, who fired the striking doctors and has refused to negotiate with the union, and the Minister for Public Health Beth Mugo, spent months in the U.S. for cancer treatment last year at the taxpayers' expense, Bosire said.
"We have specialists in this country to treat such cases, though inadequate in number. We just lack the facilities," she said.
Doctors want the government to spend more money on health care, including hiring more workers. International advocacy groups have repeatedly criticized Kenya for not investing enough in health care. The World Health Organization says Kenya and several other countries in Africa have not met a pledge made in 2000 to increase their health budgets to 15 percent of their national budgets by 2010. Kenya, East Africa's biggest economy has set aside 6 percent of the total budget. Rwanda, by comparison, allocates 18 percent of the total budget to health care, Bosire said.
Kenya has one doctor for every 6,250 people. The World Health Organization's recommended ratio is one doctor for 100 people.
Mwalimu Mati, an anti-corruption crusader, says the health care funding shortfall is caused in part by non-essential government spending, like international and domestic travel by government officials. Kenya recently inaugurated a newly refurbished parliament chamber where each of 350 seats cost $3,000.
Bosire said 32 babies less than a month old die in Kenya each day because of a lack of incubators to keep them warm.
"If I must stay on the street to get the infrastructure I need to save life," said Bosire, "then I'd rather be on the streets, rather than certifying deaths in hospitals."
September 27, 2012
Recently, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) invited members of the Southern California clergy to Washington, D.C., to discuss best practices for securing federal resources with government agencies. Twenty clergymen and women heard from officials from agencies including the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Labor, and the Director of White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua Dubois (pictured at podium).
September 20, 2012
President Barack Obama’s administration will create a national monument at a dramatic rock formation in southwestern Colorado on a site that was home to the ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians 1,000 years ago, officials confirmed on Wednesday September 19.
The move to preserve 4,726 acres of high desert at Chimney Rock, which holds spiritual significance for some tribes, will be announced September 21. The Denver Post first reported the decision, which was confirmed by Senator Michael Bennet's office.
The monument will be the third created by the Obama administration.
The Republican congressman who represents the area, Scott Tipton, sponsored a bill urging the designation that passed the House of Representatives in May. Bennet proposed a similar bill that never made it through the Senate following partisan squabbling.
“Making Chimney Rock a national monument will be an extraordinary boost for the region by preserving and protecting the site and driving tourism, which would draw more visitors and bring more dollars into the local, regional and state economies,” Bennet said in a statement.
The 1906 Antiquities Act gives the president the power to designate certain historic federal properties as national monuments, to be preserved in perpetuity.
President Clinton’s designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah in 1996 angered many local residents and politicians who had hoped to tap the underground energy deposits there. When Obama took office, some Western conservatives were suspicious his administration would go on a national monument-creating spree.
But Obama has so far only designated two other national monuments: the-14,000 acre Fort Ord National Monument along the California Coast, and Fort Monroe, a former army base in Virginia that was a safe haven for slaves during the Civil War.
Some small business owners in southwest Colorado have said such a designation for Chimney Rock would give people more reasons to visit the region.
September 27, 2012
A Texas judge has ordered DNA testing on a man who claims to be the brother of the late “The Jeffersons” star Sherman Hemsley.
Richard Thornton is challenging the validity of Hemsley’s will, which names the actor’s longtime manager, Flora Enchinton of El Paso, as sole beneficiary. Hemsley died of lung cancer July 24.
Judge Patricia Chew rescheduled the El Paso trial on Hemsley’s estate to begin Oct. 31.
Thornton, of Philadelphia, sought the DNA testing and must provide results by Oct. 15. Hemsley was born in Philadelphia but had lived in El Paso for the past 20 years.
Court documents indicate Hemsley’s estate is worth more than $50,000.
September 20, 2012
By SOPHIA TAREEN Associated Press
Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been on a hushed medical leave for more than three months, has put his home in Washington on the market for $2.5 million to help pay for health care costs, an aide said recently.
Jackson’s medical treatment for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues included several weeks of hospitalization at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The Chicago Democrat returned to his family at their Washington home earlier this month, but his staff has given no indication of when he'll return to work.
“Like millions of Americans, Congressman Jackson and Mrs. Jackson are grappling with soaring health care costs and are selling their residence to help defray costs of their obligations,” Jackson spokesman Rick Bryant said in an emailed statement.
Jackson put the Victorian-style town house on the market Sept. 8, a day after his office announced he’d been released from Mayo. Online listings for the home say it was built in 1921, has four bedrooms, five fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen and a rooftop deck with a Jacuzzi. One listing indicates that the sellers “need to find a home of choice.”
It was unclear if the Jacksons are interested in buying or renting another home in Washington. The congressman and his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, also have a home in Chicago, though their children attend school in Washington.
The home sale prompted questions about the family’s finances, though neither Bryant nor a public relations firm hired by the family returned phone messages from The Associated Press. Jackson makes about $174,000 a year as a congressman.
Jackson, 47, has been on medical leave since June 10, but his office did not publicly disclose the leave until about two weeks later and has released little information since then, which has invited scrutiny. His office first said Jackson was being treated for exhaustion and didn’t reveal his whereabouts. Staff members later said he was being treated for a “mood disorder,” and only later disclosed he was at Mayo treatment.
Members of his prominent family — including his father, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson — also have been mum. The elder Jackson declined to speak about his son.
The timing of the leave also has raised questions, since it comes as Jackson is under a House Ethics Committee investigation for ties to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The committee is looking into allegations that Jackson was involved in discussions about raising money for Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for the then-governor appointing him to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. And the announcement of the leave came just days after a former fundraiser connected to those allegations was arrested on unrelated federal medical fraud charges.
Jackson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Jackson, who first won office in 1995, is on the November ballot with two little-known candidates. He’s widely expected to win re-election.