Uhuru directs five new health facilities to offer 24-hr service

Thursday, July 8th, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta interacts with a patient when he commissioned Tassia Kwa Ndege Hospital in Nairobi on Tuesday night. The Head of State was accompanied by Nairobi Metropolitan Services Director General Mohamed Badi and NMS Chief Officer for Health Dr Ouma Oluga. Photo/PD/PSCU

PD Team and PSCU

The government’s planned move to reserve the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) for referral cases only inched closer to reality on Tuesday when President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned five new hospitals in Nairobi county and directed them to offer 24-hour services.

The new health facilities are part of 24 such hospitals being constructed by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) as part of a broad Government plan to decongest Kenyatta National Hospital, Mama Lucy, Pumwani and Mbagathi hospitals.

Government had set July 1 as the deadline for KNH to revert to a referral-only hospital but this was delayed because the new health facilities constructed by the NMS across the capital were not yet ready.

During the four-hour night operation, the Head of State launched two Level II hospitals at Gichagi in Kangemi and Gatina in Kawangware as well as Level III hospitals in Mukuru Kwa Rueben, Tassia Kwa Ndege and Our Lady of Nazareth in Mukuru Kwa Njenga.

Night operation

President Uhuru, who was accompanied by NMS Director General Mohammed Badi and several senior government officials, directed public hospitals in Nairobi to offer 24-hour services to ensure residents access health services whenever they need them. 

“The dispensaries and Level III health facilities should provide 24 hours services to decongest KNH and Mama Lucy Hospital.

Instead of someone using money to go and seek medical services at KNH, they should access the services at the facilities which are near them,” he said.

Addressing journalists who accompanied him during the night operation at State House, Nairobi, the President said he decided to commission the hospitals at night to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

“We went at night because we wanted to ensure we observe Covid-19 protocols.

As you have seen, it would have been impossible to go and do what we did today during the day because of the number of people who would have been out there,” he said.

On his directive  that the new hospitals provide 24-hour service, Uhuru said he had observed most city health facilities operated only during the day denying residents much needed healthcare at night.

“We also discovered that Nairobi hospitals open at 8am and close at 6pm. Meaning that if somebody falls sick or was in need of medical attention after 6pm, the only medical facility they could access was KNH.

So we decided it was important that these hospitals that we are building operate on 24-hour basis.

This is what we  also wanted to see whether it was possible both on accessibility and staffing point of view,” he said. 

He announced that 19 out of the 24 new hospitals being constructed by NMS were complete saying that plans were underway to adequately resource for 24-hour operations.

In an earlier interview with People Daily, Badi revealed they were working to ensure the new centres as well as two Level V hospitals are in place before KNH closes its doors to the public.

KNH is one of the five national hospitals that ought to receive only referred patients from hospitals across the country but mostly receive walk-in or self-referrals with majority of them being from Nairobi.

NMS Director of Health Dr Ouma Oluga said they have already equipped Mama Lucy hospital with 43 specialists,who handle most of the critical work that is currently undertaken at KNH.

Number of beds

At the same time, Oluga said that Mama Lucy Hospital will be upgraded from a Level 4 to a Level 5 hospital.

The upgrade will see the number of beds increased to 120 from the current 112. The facility will also have an 18-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that KNH handles more than 1,000 outpatient cases daily which can be handled by small facilities across the country.

Beside opening the new health facilities, President Kenyatta said the night tour was aimed at inspecting the ongoing road construction projects within the informal settlements saying so far a total of 400 kilometres have been completed while another 450 kilometres were underway.

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