POOR PREPAREDNESS

Western struggling to meet Covid-19 requirements

Bungoma has no ICU bed despite receiving a donation from First Lady Margaret Kenyatta last year.

In Summary
  • The region is doing badly on ICU beds and could face a crisis should there be a surge in critical cases. 
  • The 26 available ICU beds are supposed to serve a population at estimated six million, according to the 2019 national census.
Coast General Hospital CEO Iqbal Khandwala shows Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho the CGH Isolation Unit on Monday.
ISOLATION: Coast General Hospital CEO Iqbal Khandwala shows Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho the CGH Isolation Unit on Monday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

The four Western counties of Kakamega, Busia, Vihiga and Bungoma have set aside over 683 Covid-19 isolation beds in the face of a surge in cases across the country.

Kakamega has set aside 302 beds, Busia 258 beds and is in the process of establishing another 144 to bring the number to 402, while Vihiga is yet to attain the requirement per county with its 123 beds.

It is unclear how many isolation beds are in Bungoma as the administration declined to respond to inquiries despite several calls and text messages sent to top county health officials.

 
 

The region is, however, doing badly in ICU beds and could face a crisis should there be a surge in critical cases. 

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe on Tuesday hinted at the possibility of transferring patients from the overstretched facilities in Nairobi to other counties for treatment.

There are 10 ICU beds at the Kakamega General Hospital but only eight are functional since two do not have ventilators.

Busia has four ICU beds at the referral hospital and is in the process of establishing two more at the Alupe treatment centre.

Vihiga and Bungoma have no ICU beds in their isolation centres. The 12 ICU beds in Bungoma are in private hospitals. The county received a donation of ICU beds from First Lady Margaret Kenyatta last year but officials in the health department told the Star they are yet to be installed.

The 26 ICU beds in Western are supposed to serve a population estimated at six million people living in the four counties, according to the 2019 national census.

"We have ordered five complete ICU beds and we'll be able to deal with critical cases when they arise," said Vihiga county health executive Amos Kutwa.

 
 

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said his administration had converted Mumias hospital into a county Covid-19 treatment centre with 122 isolation beds.

 

He noted that Likuyani hospital has 80 isolation beds, Manyala hospital 72, Mautuma 38, Kakamega General Hospital 28 and the new teaching and referral hospital is being installed with 62 beds.

“The county has procured more isolation beds and will install more ventilators and ICU facilities soon to ensure our people are taken care of in the event of a spike in critical infections,” he said.

The counties have also stocked personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks for use by health workers as the focus on the control of the spread and treatment shifted to the devolved units after containment measures in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kwale and Mandera were relaxed a month ago.

Busia Health and Sanitation chief officer Dr Isaac Omeri said the county Covid-19 response committee had identified Kocholia, Nambale, Sio Port, Khunyangu and Port Victoria hospitals as additional recovery centres which will increase the number of isolation beds by 100.

The counties have also entered into partnerships with various organisations to bolster their war against the virus. 

Insight Health Advisors, Kenya Red Cross, Unicef, Masinde Muliro University, Tupime Kaunti and Ampath Plus are partnering with Kakamega county while Ampath, IPAS, Tinapa, Evidence Action, Equity Bank and Nutrition International are partners with Vihiga county.

The Equity Bank is to supply PPE worth Sh4.5 million to Vihiga county for the next five months.

The four counties have recorded less than 1,000 Covid-19 cases since the pandemic struck, with Busia the hardest hit at 702 active cases by Wednesday.

The high number of cases in the county has been attributed to the presence of truckers who have been camping in the area due to the slow clearance by the border authorities.         

“Currently, we are focusing mostly on Alupe and ATC. We have discussed possibilities of expanding our bed capacity to 402 by bringing on board 30 at Kocholia, 30 at Nambale, Sio Port 30, Khunyangu 30 and Port Victoria 24,” deputy governor Moses Mulomi said.

Edited by Henry Makori