Designing Sustainable Citizen Engagement Initiatives

Recently I lost a relative in what seemed to be a case of profit-first-service-later after he was turned away by a private hospital. He had been run over by a car and was now sent to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where he died while ‘under going’ treatment. A couple of days ago, a contractor working on a neighbour’s property fell and was critically injured. He was turned away by the same hospital, ended up at KNH and died while also ‘under going’ treatment.

‘Under going’ because they were both actually waiting to be seen to.

There have been very many attempts over the years to compel KNH and other public hospitals to improve their quality of service but very little to show for it. Instead what many citizens do, even those with low income, is they exercise their exit option and head for private healthcare providers.

What then can be done? I believe every singular complaint that citizens make, even to the highest offices in these institutions, is not really heard. The institution neither fears or respects regular citizens. Their voices need to be aggregated by an institution with horizontal respect and vertical fear before policy can be implemented for better service outcomes.

Almost a year ago, I thought through this a little bit and I think these 5 principles for sustainable citizen engagement still hold true. What do you think?