A local tabloid has published that an unknown number of ICU beds that were reportedly donated to Bungoma County Referral Hospital by the first lady Margaret Kenyatta is missing amid the urgent need as Cononavirus scare surge in the Wycliffe Wangamati led County. So is the entire country.
Kenya only has 518 critical care beds to cater for patients. This is as the country fights the Covid-19 pandemic that has so far claimed the life of one person, a 66-year-old who died at the Aga Khan Intensive Care Unit. He was suffering from diabetes.
Of the 518, 439 beds are occupied in certain hospitals across the country. Nairobi County has the highest number of ICU beds at 247. Hospitals within Nairobi county with the highest bed capacity include; Kenyatta National Hospital at 55, Nairobi West hospital- 17, Kenyatta University Hospital-44, Nairobi Hospital- 16 and Aga Khan Hospital with 11 ICU beds respectively. Moi Teaching Referral Hospital has 20 beds while the Coast General Teaching Referral hospital in Mombasa County has 12 beds.
However, there are counties with no single critical care beds. These include; Kitui, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Turkana, Elgeyo Marakwet, Marsabit and Migori counties.
First Lady’s ICU Beds
In a press release posted by the Governor’s Communication unit on their Facebook page, the equipments that were donated to the hospital by Kenya’s First Lady H.E Mama Margaret Kenyatta on the 22nd of May, 2018 would be a big boost to the County’s capacity to handle many emergencies especially those calling for surgery, including the delivery of babies.
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Titled First Lady Lauds Bungoma on Efforts Towards Safe Motherhood, the presser indicated that the donation to Bungoma Referral Hospital was the fourth of its kind coming after similar donations to Kieni Hospital (Embu County), Chemolingot District Hospital (Baringo County) and Kitui County Referral Hospital (Kitui County).
“The donation which included ICU beds, anaesthesia machines, biopsy instruments, ECG machines, patient monitors, endoscopy machines and an assortment of pharmaceutical and medical supplies, is aimed at ensuring hospitals are equipped to handle emergencies and complicated surgeries,” read part of the presser.
“I hope that the medical supplies and equipment will enhance the hospitals’ efforts to handle more deliveries of babies, as well as surgeries and the many emergencies it encounters daily,” said the First Lady was quoted as saying.
According to the post, the donations were made possible through a special partnership between Beyond Zero and two American organizations Project CURE (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment) and Friends of Africa International. Project CURE is the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to more than 130 countries.
The donation to Bungoma Referral Hospital was the fourth of its kind coming after similar donations to Kieni Hospital (Embu County), Chemolingot District Hospital (Baringo County) and Kitui County Referral Hospital (Kitui County).
The medical supplies and equipments donated by the First Lady are geared towards improving access to healthcare services. The initiatives of Beyond Zero are aligned with the Universal Health Access Agenda, which is one of President Kenyatta’s Big Four plan for Kenya’s growth.
Chief Administrative Secretary of Ministry of Health Dr Rashid Aman, who spoke at the event, said the ministry of health appreciates the role the First Lady plays in the promotion of better healthcare. He said the efforts by the First Lady has led to an improvement in maternal and child health indicators especially in arid and semi-arid parts of the country.
ICU BEDS MISSING in Action
However, two years down the line and there’s no clear information about the whereabouts of the said ICU beds and if they were actually donated or not. What is also not clear is whether the ICU beds were for neonatal units or general.
Bungoma County Governor Wycliffe Wangamati had publicly thanked the First Lady for the donations which included ICU equipment. “Your passion for healthcare is second to none in this country,” said the Governor.
County Commissioner James Kianda also is on record stating that the national government will work closely with the County Government to ensure the donated equipments will be used to benefit the people! Are they?
This comes amid the rising fear about the Country’s state of ICU beds even as the government fambles between viable options to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
ICU Beds in Bungoma County
In a list of Kenya’s hospitals with ICU beds, only Life Care Hospital Bungoma is equipped with ICU beds (21) and Bungoma West Hospital (2 ICU beds).
Kenyan Bulletin has not received an official response from Bungoma County Executive Committee Member in charge of Health Dr. Athony Walela as our calls went unanswered.
When asked about the photos of him that were shared on December 13, 2019, while opening two ICU beds at a private hospital in Bungoma he only replied with;
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“I am going to a meeting,” responded Dr. Walela. The CECM had not responded to our inquiry despite numerous follow-up messages that were only blueticked by the time of posting this article.
With the Coronavirus cases rising day by day, Bungoma County may find itself in limbo if proper preparations are not put in place.