Region governors in plea for oxygen supply

From left: Wilberforce Otichillo (Vihiga) James Ongwae (Kisii), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), and Anyang Nyong'o (Kisumu). [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Governors from the Lake Region Economic Bloc counties have raised the alarm over shortage of oxygen as Covid-19 ravages the region.

The leaders said the shortage in most hospitals in the counties that have been declared Covid-19 hotspot has resulted in many deaths.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya chaired a meeting in Kisumu yesterday, which was attended by his counterparts Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), James Ongwae (Kisii), Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga) and Siaya deputy governor James Okumbe.

“We have lost many of our people due to lack of oxygen,” Oparanya said.

The national government has imposed a 7pm to 4am curfew to slow the spread of the disease in 13 counties in the region that has been declared a Covid-19 hot spot.

Oparanya and Nyong’o said they would meet the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to push for the county governments to be allowed to import their own testing kits and Covid-19 vaccine.

“We require more rapid testing kits because PCR takes long, about 24 hours, to give results thus delaying in depicting the true Covid-19 situation,” Oparanya said.

Nyong’o said the lake region leaders had identified a source for the vaccine and the kits at an affordable rate, and that “logistics for importation and storage is not a problem.”

The governors said the meeting with Kagwe will help them understand the protocols before importation.

At the same time, the county bosses said coronavirus patients were free to seek treatment in any hospital in the region.

The cross-county referral system has experienced a long and strenuous process for patients to be admitted.

“If a patient in Kisumu lacks a bed or oxygen they can seek the services in neighbouring counties without any hitch,” said Oparanya.

On linkages with universities, the governors said, it will help in policymaking and planning for growth of the areas.

The governors also pushed for the KCB to continue managing the troubled Mumias Sugar Company that is under receivership, the appointment of board of directors of public sugar firms, and the removal of nine cases in courts that stopped leasing of the companies.

The county bosses further signed a Memorandum of Understanding with vice-chancellors of 11 universities in the bloc to collaborate on research and innovation.

A report from the lake region bloc on health shows both private and public hospitals do not have enough oxygen and patients are dying for lack of air.

The reports indicate that the situation within the region is getting out of hand with beds being full in the major hospitals and patients are lying on the floor.

Homa Bay County reported lacking oxygen and had to refer patients to Kisumu, while in Busia the beds are full. In Kisumu health workers are overwhelmed.

Covid 19 Time Series