CAPACITY ASSESSMENT

Counties excluded from Covid-19 oxygen committee

Oparanya expresses concern given that counties manage nearly all public health facilities.

In Summary

• According to the WHO, oxygen therapy is recommended for all severe and critical Covid‐19 patients. 

• He assured health workers the counties will supply enough, quality personal protective equipment approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

A patient with coronavirus is put on a ventilator in a hospital.
OUTBREAK: A patient with coronavirus is put on a ventilator in a hospital.
Image: COURTESY

County governments have been left out of a national oxygen committee formed by the Ministry of Health to assess the capacity in public hospitals.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya expressed consternation that counties can be sidelined in such an important team yet they manage nearly all public health facilities.

He said counties have already agreed to increase the current supply of oxygen in isolation facilities, as the number of admitted Covid-19 patients rises.

Oparanya said the increased oxygen reservoir tanks will support at least 50 beds in each isolation facility.

“At the same time the county governments will seek to be represented and included in the oxygen committee being hosted by the Ministry of Health to discuss the required support to counties in order to urgently increase portable oxygen cylinders in levels 2 and 3,” Oparanya said in Nairobi on Friday.

According to the WHO, oxygen therapy is recommended for all severe and critical Covid‐19 patients. The ability to boost capacity to deliver oxygen therapy is the cornerstone of the overall approach to managing the Covid‐19 outbreak.

Oparanya said all county governments will embark on a rigorous civic education dubbed 'Bila Barakoa, hakuna huduma (“No mask, No service)' beginning Monday next week.

He said this will be conducted using all safe means, including vernacular radio stations and other communication channels at the county Level.

“Additionally, county governments will on Tuesday, jointly with county commissioners under the county emergency response committees, launch the joint enforcement of Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols.”

He assured health workers the counties will supply enough, quality personal protective equipment approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

The counties will also ensure the healthcare workers and their families have access to comprehensive medical cover in case they contract the virus.

“We have sought a meeting with the national government and key stakeholders to ensure that we resolve the issue of healthcare workers allowances in the shortest time possible,” he said.

“We urge the trade unions to encourage their members to remain steadfast in carrying out their critical roles as we jointly seek solutions to the issues at hand.”

He complained about delayed disbursement to the counties from the National Treasury. He said this has negatively impacted service delivery and county governments have not been able to pay salaries for all workers.

“This has hindered effective general operations of the counties, including targeted responses to Covid-19 escalating cases,” Oparanya said.

In October, the Kenya Medical, Pharmacists and Dentists Council said the country had 18,443 isolation beds. CEO Daniel Yumbya said those beds were enough but more might be needed if cases continue to rise. 

Yumbya said that of the current national isolation capacity, 13,272 beds are in health facilities and the rest in non-health facilities.