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20 dead in Baringo malaria outbreak

Health & Science - By Mercy Kahenda | October 8th 2017 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300
Baringo County medical officers attending to patients at Patpat along the Kapedo - Kolowa road in Tiaty, last week. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Malaria has so far claimed over 20 lives in Tiaty sub county, Baringo County since its outbreak two weeks ago, with majority being children under five years.

The deaths have so far been reported in Silale (nine), Kolowa (15), Akoret (seven), Kongor (five), Rotu (one), Lokis (four).

Tirioko Ward MCA Sam Lokales said majority of patients from his area are dying because treatment is coming too late.

“The number of deaths in my area is quite high. We need an urgent solution before things get out of hand,” said the MCA.

To contain the situation, he asked the county to set up medical camps in Kogir, Chesawach, Rotu and Lokir so that patients in far flung areas can access critical medicare in good time.

He pointed out that the high number of malaria patients diagnosed in the sub county has over stretched Chemolingot, a major health facility in the area.

The hospital has a capacity of 12 beds, yet there’s a high flow of patients suffering from malaria and other ailments.

Lokales further asked the Ministry of Health to supply mosquito nets and enough antimalarial drugs to curb the disease.

A senior medic at the hospital said there are no sufficient beds and the ones available are also not of good standard.

“Patients suffering from various diseases are admitted in the same ward, a situation which can easily lead to spread of infections,” said the officer.

According to the medic, the hospital was upgraded under devolution despite it not meeting standards of a sub county hospital.

The hospital he said is not equipped with adequate modern medical services for a sub county hospital.

“Look at how the wards are set up, we have patients suffering from burns in same ward with children, this is an issue that can cause spread of deadly infections,” said the officer.

A visit by Sunday Standard at the hospital showed a desperate situation with critically ill children sharing beds with sick adults.

The wards were also congested leading to poor ventilation in the facility.

Majority of patients diagnosed with malaria were being discharged because of lack of bed space.

Blood shortage

“The hospital receives a high number of patients but we cannot offer them quality services because of lack of equipment. For example, there is no theatre and patients who need operation are forced to seek help in private facilities,” he said.

Tiaty sub county health service coordinator Joseph Nakopir said the hospital is also facing shortage of blood, which is critical for malaria patients.

“We urgently need volunteers to donate blood to help a number of children suffering from anaemia,” said Nakopir.

Nakopir attributed the lack of enough medics at the facility to the ongoing Kenya National Union of Nurses strike which has paralysed health services.

The facility has tried to reach out to a section of nurses to provide the service following high flow of patients suffering from malaria, but majority have not responded.

“The hospital does not have enough medics to handle high number of patients being received every day following outbreak of malaria, we therefore recalled a section of nurses to volunteer their services,” said Nakopir.

The blood situation is also dire.

The hospital gets blood from Kabarnet hospital, the Rift Valley Blood Transfusion centre in Nakuru and Eldoret.

“Most children received at the hospital are anaemic and require transfusion. We are calling on well-wishers to donate blood,” he said.

The medical issue has further been complicated by the security situation in the area.

Owing to the high insecurity, many medics have been forced to flee to safe areas.

Among affected facilities include Kapau Dispensary in Torioko Ward and Kapedo, where nurses fled away early this year.

“Insecurity has affected service delivery, for example majority of nurses who used to man various health centres and dispensaries ran away when they realised their lives were in danger,” said the coordinator.

Mosquito nets

Hillary Kibet, Officer Commanding Loruk KDF camp said from tomorrow, KDF medical officers shall erect a treatment camp to reach out to more patients.

“There are plans being set in place to ensure locals are tested and treated on time. We are dedicated to save lives despite the fact that our core role is providing security,” said Kibet.

Kapau location Chief Sadam Samali appealed to the Government to supply locals with mosquito nets, antimalarial drugs and humanitarian food items.

“Many children are bitten by mosquitoes at night because they do not sleep under mosquito nets. We want the Ministry of Health to supply us with nets urgently,” said the chief.

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