Coronavirus to claw back at progress in maternal health care

Thursday, April 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Coronavirus scare.

Lilian Kaivilu @liliankaivilu

With health being a devolved function, counties are expected to shoulder the burden of ensuring that the sector runs smoothly while ensuring key health indicators in the devolved units stay stable.

But Covid-19 threatens the gains made so far. Isiolo Governor Dr Mohammed Kuti, who chairs the Health Committee in the Council of Governors (CoG), gives his insight. 

What do we expect to see in the counties post Covid-19 in terms of the health indicators?

Coronavirus is likely to instil fear among people hence reduce instances of visiting a health facility as hospitals are viewed as possible contamination points for the disease.

This will, in turn, disrupt the maternal health indicators across the country. This will definitely bring disruptions in the health sector and adversely affect the health indicators in the counties. 

Human resource in the health sector remains a challenge across counties. How are you prepared to handle this with the rising cases of Covid-19?

We are preparing for a worse scenario. Definitely there will be movement of staff to prepare for eventualities of Covid-19. This pandemic is creating a need that wasn’t there before.

There is now an isolation facility in most health facilities in the country and that requires staff.

It requires moving staff from where they are to the new service points. These had not been factored before.

Maternity health services are  hard hit as the country shifts focus to coronavirus response. How best should counties prepare for this?

Both maternal and antenatal indicators are likely to dip. The demand for these services will be less because of fear of contracting the virus while attending clinics. 

How is the halted budget making process likely to affect healthcare financing moving forward?

Budgets will shift and certain areas will be affected. But if we obey the government instructions on preventing the virus, then we’ll manage the curve to a situation where the health facilities will not be strained.  

Limited movement minus protective gear, community health volunteers may be forced to stay at home. Will this affect primary healthcare?

We were having high hopes in terms of how our immunisation and antenatal care indicators will perform, but now we will have a challenge because community health workers cannot move freely into homesteads.  

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