• Also ranking poorly for its preparedness is Siaya County whose high rates of HIV prevalence might increase the number of infections.
• Joining Siaya on the list of counties that are highly exposed to massive infections are Mombasa, Nairobi, Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi and Kisumu counties.
Wajir, Mandera, Turkana, West Pokot and Narok are the least equipped counties to handle massive Covid-19 infections.
This is according to a survey by the Institute for Economic Affairs, which reveals that a high number of infections could overwhelm the healthcare systems in these counties.
“If you look at the findings you see a pattern. Most of the counties with the lowest capacity are the marginalised ones compared to those with the highest capacities, which are mostly former provincial headquarters,” Noah Wamalwa, an economist at IEA, said.
The survey – Covid 19 in Kenya: Comparison of County Health System Capacity against Population Risk – was conducted by ranking the counties on a score of 0-100 on the basis of a range of indicators under the healthcare capacity and population-at-risk indices.
Also ranking poorly for its preparedness is Siaya County whose high rates of HIV prevalence might increase the number of infections.
“Siaya scored 100 on the HIV prevalence rate. It also a low healthcare capacity, such as lack of enough doctors and nurses and bed capacity. This makes it a high-risk county when it comes to the pandemic,” Wamalwa said.
Joining Siaya on the list of counties that are highly exposed to massive infections are Mombasa, Nairobi, Nyeri, Tharaka Nithi and Kisumu counties.
“The high population in these urban areas makes it easier for the infections to spread fast. For the counties in Central region, this risk is increased by their proximity to Nairobi,” Wamalwa said.
For Tharaka Nithi, the risk is heightened by the high elderly population in the area.
The survey also discovered that the same counties are best equipped to handle a high number of infections largely attributable to historical concentrations of resources in these areas.
Although not a defunct provincial headquarters as the other best performing counties, Lamu also registers a high score on its healthcare capacity.
“For Lamu, the advantage is that it has a low population, which may not overwhelm the capacity of its healthcare system to handle high infections,” Wamalwa said.
IEA Executive Director Kwame Owino said that the survey provides policymakers with a picture of where resources need to be relocated to ensure that the pandemic is handled effectively across the board.
“Generally, we felt that using global indices from the World Health Organization would not provide a true picture of the situation. Kenya performs well when assessed using global indices. But we have to remember that health is a devolved function,” Owino said.
He also proposed that the government should redeploy health personnel to high-risk areas.
The 14 indicators under healthcare capacity include recurrent expenditure, health professionals per 100,000 people, total hospital bed capacity, number of medical labs, sanitation facilities and communication facilities, among others.
On the other hand, the seven indicators of risk included HIV prevalence, percentage of the elderly population, mobility, proximity to cities, percentage of the urban population, morbidity rate and the number of visitors to game parks and museums.