A severe shortage of medicines has hit Kakamega County General Hospital and disrupted services.
Yesterday, the 500-bed facility was unable to dispense even pain killers to patients. The MRI department was closed.
The situation is worsening and residents are angry. They recently accused the county government of increasing medical charges.
They also protested against a requirement that patients first deposit money before treatment can start.
The facility is part of the upcoming Sh10 billion Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The first phase of the 750-bed upgrade will be commissioned by June next year. The hospital acts as a referral for Vihiga, Busia and Bungoma counties.
Patients, including those with NHIF cards and other insurance covers, have to buy medicines from private chemists.
The shortage has been caused by the change in procurement procedures by the county government. The county executive committee has to approve any purchase above Sh1 million.
It takes time.
“It’s true we face a serious shortage of drugs. We can’t hide. Though most of our clients have the NHIF cover, we can’t offer treatment at the moment without them buying medicine,” pharmacist Mike Watamba said.
He said they ordered for drugs in September and those for cancer in August, but they have not been delivered.
“Previously, we procured medicine directly from Kemsa but since the procedures changed the long procurement processes have caused the delay,” Watamba said.
The hospital receives Sh10 million monthly. It is only able to purchase drugs on credit from prequalified chemists in the event of an emergency that requires an operation in theatre.
A medic who declined to be named told the Star that the revenue they generate is enough to sustain services, but the county’s monthly allocation does not meet their needs.
“Most of the residents have NHIF cover, but when we treat them, the money is paid into the county revenue account and not the hospital’s. The administration continues releasing the Sh10 million monthly,” he said.
The medic said the renal and cancer departments are able to sustain their services and still have surplus to help other sections.
He blamed the crisis on the differences between Health executive Rachael Okumu and chief officer Everlyn Mulunji.
“As we speak, there are staff who listen to the chief officer and others who take orders from the executive,” he said.