Centres burst with patients after launch of universal coverage

A ward at Migori County Level Four Hospital. [File, Standard]
An incident where an expectant nurse died at the Migori County Hospital due to lack of blood has become the face of poor state of public hospitals in Nyanza.

Rosemary Owiti died in the theatre soon after giving birth due to excessive bleeding. Her husband, Felix Otieno, said his wife developed complications after delivery.

Migori County Health Chief Officer Dalmas Oyugi regretted that the hospital lacks a blood bank and life-saving drugs.

“Sometimes we source for drugs from neighboring counties, even as far as Nairobi but in vain,” said Dr Oyugi.

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A sport check by the Sunday Standard found out that most public health facilities in Nyanza suffer from malfunctioning equipment, shortage of drugs and inadequate staff.

In Kisumu, Jane Ogola was distraught after failing to get specialised treatment for acute abdominal pain at the Jaramogi Oginga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOTRH) last week.

Ms Ogola, 26, was told to go for ultrasound at the Kisumu County Referral Hospital since JOTRH lacked ultrasound gel to facilitate the test. She said the doctor suspected she had a growth.

Most facilities lack functional diagnostic equipment, forcing patients to seek services at private facilities.

In many facilities, essential medicine supplied at the inception of Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) pilot have run out.

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In recent a report, County Pharmacist Lawrence Otieno recommended a budget for county-level procurement of out-of-stock medicines saying the situation is bound to recur in the second quarter of universal coverage pilot.

“Kenya Medical Supplies Agency may not always manage a 100 per cent fill rate when conclusions are drawn from the past experiences,” the report read. Since the launch of UHC, the county has registered 306,697 households.

The 132 public health facilities across the county have experienced at least an 82 per cent increase in outpatient numbers, with the demand for medicine and medical staff escalating.

The facilities have 35 specialists against the required 116, with 76 medical officers against the required 411 and 1,199 nurses against the required 3,033.

There are 46 pharmacists and 35 pharmaceutical technologists against a minimum requirement of at least 70 pharmacists and 190 pharmaceutical technologists.

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Dr Hezron Omollo of Kisumu County Referral Hospital said referrals across the region have overstretched the facility. He said wards lack files, gloves and other items required for medics to work efficiently.

The Sh3.9 billion UHC programme targets four counties including Machakos, Isiolo and Nyeri. At least 3.2 million residents are expected to benefit from the pilot.

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Public HospitalsMigori County HospitalUHCHealth