Euthanasia: Are Kenyans ready for ‘assisted suicide’?
6 months ago, 21 Maý 11:35
Something strange happened last week. 104-year-old Australian scientist travelled to Switzerland to commit ‘assisted suicide’. This after trying to kill himself in vain. David Goodall, who had been barred from seeking help to do so in his home country because it’s illegal, did not have a terminal illness.
He said his inability to do basic, personal tasks by himself had contributed to his desire to die because he felt he had lost his dignity and self-respect.
This happened against the backdrop of an incident in which a certain Kazungu from the Kenyan coast was a fortnight ago ‘killed’ by medics in the US (as per the country’s laws, which allows health practitioners to do so after a stipulated time for those with no surviving chance).
This was after his family in Kenya refused to give consent for them to pull the plug, despite being told that except for the life support machine, he stood no survival chance.
This is almost similar to what happened in the famous case of Alex Madaga, an accident victim who was kept in an ambulance for 18 hours at Kenyatta National Hospital for lack of an extra ICU bed.
The medics declared that he had no survival chance and asked his family, in vain, to let them switch of the life support machine to save them the soaring medical bill.
Kenyans, and Africans by extension, are confronted by this complex issue of ‘voluntary dying’ or euthanasia, as it’s commonly called in some countries. Some claim it is taboo and would invite the wrath of ancestors or the kin would be haunted by the ghost and spirit of the dead.
Take, for instance, the slow death of former South Africa President, Nelson Mandela. For close to five months after doctors declared him to be in a vegetative state and with no chance of surviving, with his family debating whether or not to switch off the life support machine.
These, among other related incidents, have sparked a debate about switching off life support machines, Advance Directives (Wills of sorts, common in the US, in which patients, upon being admitted, direct doctors on what to do to them in the event they don’t respond to medication) and assisted deaths.
Desmond Tutu, a respected South African man of God who is expected to be pro-life, recently got himself in trouble after he threw a spanner in the works, supporting these assisted deaths in extreme cases.
It got more interesting when a South African court, just the other day, ruled that a terminally ill man, Robin Stransham-Ford, could have a doctor assist his death by lethal injection or lethal medication. The ruling, despite the judge making it clear that it only applied in that case, opened a Pandora’s Box.
The big question, however, is, isn’t this a human right of sorts? Is it an idea Kenyans should entertain? Why wouldn’t an adult of sound mind be denied an opportunity to die in dignity, if they so wish, because they can still do it without any one’s consent, anyway?
Why would patients ...
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