Data analysis shows that the probability of a child dying before their fifthly birthday has taken a slow a meandering path over the last 50 years. From 175 to 73 death per 1000 live births. Kenya only halving under-five deaths in the five decades.
1964: In the pre-independence patient fees are abolished. Government announces that all children can now be admitted to a hospital if sick. This is however a populists statement. out every 100 children born 170 will not turn five.
The health Investment between 1960 and 1990 were encouraging.
1967: The University of Nairobi, then East African University opens a medicine faculty to train health professionals. There is a steady drop from 157 to 98 per 1000 live births.
1973: Within one decade Kenya managed to cut under-5-mortality by 20 percent. Impressive but 1 out of seven children still do not live to their 5th birthday.
1980: During the first 17 years of independence Kenya has managed to cut under-five mortality by 40 percent, an impressive achievement, considering that the average decline in sub-Saharan Africa during this period was half of Kenya’s.
1997: During the nineties Kenya is hard hit by HIV. Increasing poverty, food shortages and poor access to healthcare also affected the health of Kenyans. Under-5-mortality increases to 133 deaths per 1,000 live births, the highest in two decades.
1998: The rate shyly drops to 112 deaths per 1000 live births. Despite the threat of the HIV epidemic to reverse 30 years of progress in reducing child mortality in sub Saharan Africa, little attention is given to family planning on of the contributors in child health.
2003: According to kenya Demographic Health Survey, underfive mortality increase further to 114 in the year 2003. This is attributed to increasing poverty. Other factor may be a decline in per capita, in availability of food, deteriorating quality of and poor access to health services due to introduction of user fees, increased HIV infections and a limited budget allocations to the health sector.
2006: Anti retroviral drugs are now available free of charge. Donor attention is geared towards maternal and child health as a way of combating the spread of HIV. Under-5-mortality is steadily declining again.
2011: With four years left it is clear that Kenya will not meet the millennium development goal on child mortality. Under-5-mortality stands at 73 deaths to 1,000 live births, more than twice the goal of 33. Birth complications, pneumonia, diarrhea and HIV are still the leading causes of deaths of infants. click here to view the gragh
In Kenya, we have had the honour of hosting the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) since 1972 and had the first African woman and first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. This among other notable factors such as our tea and coffee exports, you would expect our agricultural land use to be growing in leaps and bounds over the past 50 years since independence. We got our freedom, so what did we do with it?
What we do not do at Data Science is get blinded by the hype. We give the data to enable asking the right questions and quantifying impact. So we took the some data on agriculture and visualized it for you.
Below is data just on Kenya showing the agricultural land usage as a % of land area. A rather flat percentage with barely any change. In fact agricultural land as a whole moved from 44% in 1961 to 48% in 2011. A 4% change! Worse still, the forest area cover in 1990 was 6.5% and now is at a solid 6%. A decrease though slight, nothing to be proud of.
Some of you may say that I being critical of Kenya, that we have found ways to make better use of the land. Then let us look at how our neighbours are doing against us. Below you can see the stagnant nature of Kenya in terms of Agricultural land while our closest neighbours, Uganda and Tanzania continue to be on the up and up. Does progress involve stagnation or actual tangible positive movement?
There is a lot one can see immediately from these two visualizations and I have to say, 50 years sees us no better in Agricultural land use. We have touted agriculture as one of our chief economic pillars but done nothing to improve it. Nothing significant for that matter.
Data source: World Bank
A couple of weeks ago, I watched the movie ‘Wikileaks – We Steal Secrets’ and this gave me a whole new perspective on how Wikileaks happened, its effects plus a whole new understanding and appreciation of whistle blowers like Julian Asange, Bradly Manning etc. When do you release information, when do you not?
One thing I have also come to appreciate over the past year especially during my time working in government, is how little people out of government think that people in government are not just like them, sometimes with the same thought processes, consequences and priorities. A few weeks ago I was giving a talk in a panel discussion and one of the panelists from Civil Society told a story of how they had come across some controversial data on politicians and their electorate but that they did not wanna release it, they wanted to wait till no one was looking so that it would not create any attention to them. How does Civil Society and other private organizations expect governments to release information while they themselves refuse to make their data public?
While working on the Kenya Open Data project, many a times I was faced by these kinds of people but now within government who did not want to release information because in their definition, it would be ‘controversial’. But I kept pushing anyway and in my success cases, I often had to convince them that the data was more useful in the public than it was out of it, secretly withheld.
The government collects a lot of data about its citizens, whether they admit to it or not, whether you are aware of that or not. Not just the Kenyan government but a lot of governments in general out there with the most popular program being the NSA’s PRISM that was whistle blown by Edward Snowden.
The government of Kenya openly admitted last year through the Communications Commission of Kenyta (CCK) that it would start doing a lot more surveillance on communication by the Kenyan people. Everyone was/is understandably outraged by this idea of having a government body pry into people’s private conversations to try and pick up what would be seen as security information to help manage insecurity better.
In the wake of the Westgate attacks, you would hope that the government then would have more information, as a matter of fact, people were/are more outraged that the government did not have the relevant data needed to stop the crimes before they happen and that even after, expecting that they would have a certain file log to look into is still a wild goose chase.
This all brings me to the questions, are we mad that the government collects our information (your location notwithstanding)? Are we mad that they have the information and they never used it in the right way – to curb insecurity? Or, are we mad that the government got caught snooping? Are we better off oblivious of the fact that the government really does monitor your communication?
When we are still talking about opposing the government’s data collection/surveillance plan, how do we expect the governments to have intelligence over what is going on, who/where/when is a potential threat etc? Is there a way, are there laws that can pick out who to look into because they are guilty and who not to because they are definitely innocent?
How would we expect the government to give us information that in their definition is ‘private and critical for the running of the country’ while at the same time deny them information that we think is ‘private and critical’ to our personal life? What is the incentive here? How would you like the government to collect the information from you? Openly or privately?
Well friends, to these and many other questions that keep me up at night, I do not have an answer but please feel free to share your comments and ideas.
The cost of doctors flight from Kenya
The emergency physician at Howard University Hospital, Canada, yearns to resettle in Kenya but he fears that he could end up suffering from depression from watching his patients die from easily treatable diseases because of lack of equipment.
As a student at Starehe Boys Centre and School Dr Charles Wambulwa was delighted when he learnt that his school, through its career development programme, had found him an attachment as a volunteer at Kenyatta National Hospital.
“At the end of my holiday attachment I changed my mind after witnessing patients not being attended to for what the doctor mentoring me said was lack of equipment to treat them,” he recalls.
The worst experience he witnessed involved a patient in his 40s who lay on the floor for three days dehydrated. “When I asked why he did not have a bed, the doctor I was attached to explained that the hospital did not have enough beds for all patients. Seeing patients suffer needlessly made me swear I will never be a doctor,” he says.
But destiny came calling years later after he moved to the United States and completed a degree in Liberal Arts. He enrolled at Howard University College of Medicine.
Today, for the Emergency physician, service to his motherland is consigned to volunteering for a month every year at public hospitals in Kenya. He says the facilities have improved little since his high school days. “In 2008 I worked at Moi Technical Referral Hospital where babies share beds, this is unacceptable in health, worse still in a referral facility. When you bring your baby to the hospital, he or she is treated for what they came with but they leave with another disease,” Dr Wambulwa says. “This is very demoralizing for a doctor who has to work in the same condition every day.”
The doctor who has also volunteered at KNH, Kitale General Hospital and Kakamega Provincial General Hospital says until the working environment changes he would not return home permanently.
He says Kakamega Provincial General Hospital, which he volunteered at last year, is the filthiest hospital he has ever seen. He wonders how a doctor for so long can work in such an environment knowing that the patients you are treating are predisposed to hygiene related ailments. “I think you can only take it for so long.”
“I feel a bit spoiled that I have what I need to treat my patients with, some of my former classmates who are doctors now tell me it is a tough daily routine,” says Wambulwa, as he recalls an incident when a woman who was bleeding profusely after a car accident was brought into Webuye District Hospital, while he was on duty,but had to be transferred to Kakamenga because of lack of basic facilities .
This year’s World Food Day is World Food day is well covered on print by The East African which published inforgraphics on the latest Food and Agriculture Organization(FOA) stats of the number of hungry people world over.
Using bubble charts, to represent the proportion of people affected by hunger, Asia and the pacific has the largest share of hungry people followed sub-Sahara Africa, then Latin America and the Caribbean.
Further the visuals show the number of underweight children in developing world. With a pictogram, simplified percentages show that 1 out of 6 children- roughly 100 million children in developing countries are underweight. 1 out of 4 of the world’s children is stunted. With a pie chart, the story shows that 80 percent of the stunted children live in only 20 countries.
Further visualization helps to break down the data and relate it with education showing that 66 million primary school age children attend classes hungry across the world half of this number are children from developing countries affecting their performance.
With a world map, pie charts and pictograms, FOA tells world food insecurity story in half a page of this year’s October 12-18 EastAfrican. click here for the link.
Early sex doubles HIV risk
Data review shows that the risk of getting HIV doubles for girls who start having sex before their 16th birthday compared to those start sex at age 16 or later.
The prevalence of HIV among girls who have their first sexual encounter before their 16th birthday is 14.4 per cent while for girls whose sexual debut is between age 16-17 it is seven per cent. The health survey findings suggest that delaying sexual activity to 20 years and above, seven percent of girls who would have otherwise contracted HIV will be HIV free .
Interestingly, while the risk of contracting HIV is higher in girls, for boys the opposite is true.
Now this is going to sound like a rant but this I promise is a data-based argument. Really, it is!
There are two things I have failed to understand completely in the system of how things work in the Nairobi transport sector. The traffic lights and the parking machines.
The government has invested a lot of money in digital traffic lights that you would expect everyone would follow, which would ease traffic and most importantly do away with the traffic cops who more often create the chaos as much as not allowing drivers to reason and make decisions. It’s been months. Still, even after this heavy investment, roundabouts and controlled junctions are still controlled by traffic cops. Unnecessarily!
The question here is, are we really so incapable of following rules and instructions that we must have people employed, in addition to the heavy technology investment or are we overlooking the fact that we are beings capable of following rules for the sake of job creation?
Can the cops at traffic points be assigned to more uncontrolled spaces or highways?
If you have parked a car at the mall or some of those other popular spots in Nairobi, you have most likely seen the Kaps parking fee machines.
Now, how I know these machines should work is, you insert your parking ticket, the amount is displayed on the screen, you insert the money, if exact, get your ticket and receipt else, get change, ticket and receipt.
Contrary to popular belief, these machines are more manual than they are automatic or digitized. You always need an attendant with you!
The parking machines:
- Do not take new notes or coins.
- Do not dispense change.
You need a parking attendant for that. Since no one is ever sure about how new or old their notes or coins are, there are usually long queues all dependent on one attendant to help give change or use old coins and notes. This has caused the inefficiency of having to wait or walk further to get this service. Is this really necessary?
Don’t get me wrong reader, I am not against job creation, in the contrary, I am in the process of creating jobs but what I am so against is, must we create jobs at the expense of our investments in innovation or invest in innovation at the expense of job creation?
I feel that we have to pick one to avoid all the wastage around (time, money, people, spaces) for a better Kenya.