Counties overwhelmed by virus, says Oparanya


Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Rose Wairimu from the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya, and Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya during ICPAK’s 36th annual conference in Mombasa, yesterday. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Health systems in counties have been overwhelmed because of challenges that have been brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said yesterday the problem has been compounded by lack of funds, which ha made it difficult for county governments to equip hospitals as well as hire and train personnel.

The Kakamega Governor, who made the remarks when he addressed the 36th Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) annual conference in Mombasa, said counties were finding it hard to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.

“We have been overwhelmed. Late disbursement of funds or failure by the national government to disburse funds to the counties has not made things any better for us,” said Oparanya.

He said the national government has not sent money to counties for the last three months. “This has made it difficult for counties to provide services to the people.”

He said his county has already spent over Sh600 million in the fight against the virus, which has so far killed 1,409 people in Kenya. Globally, 1.41 million people have died with total infections standing at 59.8 million.

Oparanya said: “We have not been able to acquire enough personal protective equipment and drugs. It has also been a big challenge training our health workers, including those required to attend to patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as we lack the funds to do so.”

He said one patient admitted in the ICU needs at least eight nurses to take care of him, a number that most counties cannot manage because of shortage of staff.

“The county only had six ICU beds when I took over. We now have 20. This means we need more nurses to handle patients who need intensive care. We are faced with a big burden,” the governor said.

Health services

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, who was also at the event, said: “We need to improve health services and the national and county governments must work together on this. The pandemic has also shown us why we need to prioritise the health sector.”

Wamalwa said Covid-19 was both a health and a financial crisis, which calls for proper financial management.