Counties ill-prepared in Coronavirus fight: Report

Monday, May 4th, 2020 20:00 |
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

County governments are either not ready or are unprepared to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, which is now in at least 21 counties, representatives of healthcare workers, unions and professional associations have said.

They include Health Workers Union such as the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya Union of Clinical Officers and the Kenya Union of Nurses.

The associations are the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK), Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) and Kenya Association of Clinical Pathologists (KACP).

A report by the Senate Committee on Covid-19 situation suggests that the health workers’ representative groups who appeared before them disclosed that most counties either still lack adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or have poorly equipped isolation and treatment facilities and have not facilitated adequately Covid-19 training and sensitisation for their health workers.

This has led majority of the healthcare workers in the counties to be afraid as they are exposed and not adequately trained handle the pandemic.

Kenya has 435 confirmed cases of coronavirus with the number of fatalities standing at 22.

“In our meetings, we spoke to the nurses and clinical officers in different parts of the country; not just in Nairobi but where they are in hospitals. Many of them expressed fear. 

“They are afraid that they are exposed and are not trained enough,” the Committee chairman Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said of the report tabled in the House on Tuesday.

Critical care services

Though, according to the report, the national government has made a commitment to allocate Sh5 billion to county governments to be disbursed over a period of three months to facilitate county response plans and purchase of necessary equipment, essential medical supplies and commodities such as PPEs.

With regard to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facilities, at least 27 counties that do not have a single Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facility.

According to the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders, the country has only have a total of 518 ICU beds in both public and private facilities.

Of these, 94 percent or 448 ICU beds out of 518 are already in use by non-Covid-19 patients requiring critical care services.

“We face serious deficits as a country in the availability of ICU beds and ventilators. This is something that we seriously need to consider as a Senate. 

“We can help each and every county to get, at least, 10 ICU beds. That will raise the number by 470,” Sakaja said.

The country has only 297 ventilators, of which only 90 are available to the public at health facilities.

According to submissions the Council of Governors (CoG), an additional 30 ventilators were procured by the Ministry of Health but none of these additional ventilators have been distributed to them.

“We have written to the Ministry to establish where these ventilators are. As you know, they need personnel. 

“Critically, what is needed is oxygen and basic oxygen equipment to the counties.

The lack of this equipment threatens our ability to care for and manage Covid-19 patients who may develop mild to moderate symptoms,” he said.

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