LOCKDOWN IMPACT

27% sick Kenyans couldn't access medics at Covid onset — ministry

Many stayed at home due to strict containment measures at the time

In Summary
  • Outpatient attendance in healthcare facilities declined by 27 per cent.
  • Number of women who gave birth under a skilled attendance was also adversely affected especially in the months of April and May .
Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth and CAS Rashid Aman
Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth and CAS Rashid Aman
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

 

Twenty-seven in every 100 Kenyans who were sick and required to see a healthcare provider at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic could not because of the virus containment measures.

The stringent measures saw some people who were sick opt to stay at home while those who were required to seek specialised treatment restricted by the lockdown with majority unaware of where to get the special passes.

Data from the Health ministry shows that as a result, outpatient attendance in healthcare facilities declined by 27 per cent.

The number of women who gave birth under a skilled attendance was also adversely affected especially in the months of April and May before picking later due to increased messaging.

“The first lockdown was total lockdown and movement was very difficult and even those who were coming for cancer treatment in KNH say from Meru, needed a special pass and sometimes people didn’t even know where to get these passes from. They, therefore, sat back at home and waited and that had a devastating effect on the outcome,” Health director-general Patrick Amoth said.

According to the data, HIV prevention and treatment services declined by 22 per cent in 2020.

This means that those who ought to have been tested were not reached and therefore were not linked to treatment.

As a result, those who probably had an advanced disease had an adverse outcome, or those who were in the early phase of the disease simply allow the virus to continue to multiply.

By the time they were put on treatment, it was quite late where they required longer care and closer attention for them to be able to improve.

“For HIV, one paradox is that those on treatment actually increased by 8.8 per cent which is a plus because it means those who were picked then, they were quickly linked to treatment hence increasing the number of people who are on treatment leading to a better outcome,” Amoth said.

“Malaria performed better because of innovation and use of community health volunteers and also interventions by members of the public including the use of treated nets while indoor residual spraying continued,” the DG said.

On the other hand, treatment of drug-resistant TB declined by 19 per cent during the pandemic period, with an even greater impact being witnessed in the treatment of extensively drug-resistant TB that recorded a decline of 23 per cent during that period.

“So you can imagine the impact of that, that you have people in the communities with TB, drug-resistant or XDR TB who are not on treatment, the impact they have on spreading that particular mutant of the TB bacteria to the rest of the population and therefore increasing the cost of healthcare because MDR and XDR TB are extremely expensive to treat.”

Instances of gender-based violence also went up, something attributed to increased instances of mental health issues due to the impact of the pandemic that resulted in loss of jobs, loss of income and food insecurity.

 

-Edited by SKanyara