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Crisis hits hospitals as malaria tests stall

By Mactilda Mbenywe | Published Thu, July 5th 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 4th 2018 at 21:15 GMT +3
Mosquitoes are the primary vector for malaria. [File, Standard]

Public hospitals in Kisumu have been affected by a shortage of reagents used in testing for malaria.

The week-long shortage has seen patients who require the tests referred to private facilities. There were fears that some medics could be treating patients without proper diagnosis.

A report by the Kenya Inter-Agency Rapid Assessment put malaria prevalence in the county at 35 per cent, among the highest in the country.

Residents expressed their frustration in their attempts to get the tests done.

Janet Achieng, an expectant woman, told The Standard she went for tests at the Muhoroni sub-county hospital last week but was turned away.

“I was referred to a private hospital to test for malaria. I could not afford it. I bought painkillers to ease the fever,” she said.

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Ms Achieng is among the many patients in dire need of a malaria test but who were sent away from public health facilities for lack of reagents.

John Oketch, who said he suspected that his five-year-old son was suffering from malaria, said he had visited three sub-county hospitals and had been advised to buy antibiotics.

“Doctors advised me to buy antibiotics and take my son to a private hospital for a malaria test. I cannot afford it,” said Mr Oketch.

The health executive, Rosemary Obara, admitted that for the past three weeks the 120 health facilities in the county had not had malaria test reagents.

“We are working around the clock to rectify the situation,” said Ms Obara.

She added that many reagents for testing malaria expired during last year's protracted nurses' strike. Obara said the county had placed an order to supply the reagents and anti-malaria drugs.

“Different facilities have different workloads, although the problem is among all of them,” she said.

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