Millions spent on expensive medical equipment couldn’t save this life.
Much dismay and outrage has followed the release of Africa Uncensored’s documentary Saving Esther, about the shady purchase, for hundreds of millions of dollars, of medical machines. The purchase of the machines, from X-rays to kidney dialysis equipment, has done little to improve health care for citizens in need of basic and middle-level treatment, but did deliver lucrative secondary contracts to the politically connected.
The documentary is based on the ZAM-AIPC report Shiny New Useless Machines, as part of The Kleptocrcy Project, investigated by Africa Uncensored’s Joy Kirigia in a partnership between the three organisations.
As in the report, the documentary follows the case of Esther Wambui, who suffered cervical cancer and died during the investigation, because she could not access the needed chemotherapy, which she would have needed to pay for privately. The film glaringly shows the discrepancies between a lack of overall healthcare -even a stay in hospital is unaffordable for the poor in Kenya- and expensive machines, half of which are either still in boxes or otherwise not in use, since most hospitals in poor areas lack electricity, maintenance or staff to use them. “Two kinds of cancer killed Esther,” the documentary concludes. “The cancer in her body and the cancer that has captured Kenya’s healthcare system.”
The impact of the documentary has been impressive, with many in Kenya coming forward to protest the state of affairs, among whom senators, medical professionals and regional government bodies.