Shame of hospitals with no toilets, water

Many of the public hospitals that received the Sh38 billion leased medical equipment lack toilets or drinking water.

A study in 14 top county hospitals shows many do not have adequate toilets, lack piped water and lack storage for safe drinking water hence putting the lives of patients and workers at risk.

The survey published last Wednesday was carried out by Kenya Medical Research Institute, (Kemri) University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands and the University of Oxford, UK and appears in the journal Plos One.

The team assessed the status of water, sanitation and hygiene in the former district hospitals now turned county referral facilities.

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The 14 hospitals are among 98 county facilities which were to receive state-of-the-art medical equipment in the controversial Sh38 billion national government leasing scheme.

Medical equipment

In 2015, the Ministry of Health entered into a deal with five global companies for supply of medical equipment. The deal that attracted the wrath of governors, would see the the ministry deduct Sh90 million annually from counties for leasing of the equipment.

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Critics of the scheme have argued that some of the hospitals need to first fix their basic infrastructure before acquiring top-end equipment.

“Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) in healthcare facilities is critical in the provision of safe and quality care. Poor Wash increases hospital-associated infections and contributes to the rise of drug resistance,” says the new study.

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The researchers measured facilities’ performance against 67 good hospital hygiene practices, such as availability of toilets, water, hand washing stations and management of waste. Overall performance was rated to as low as 47 per cent, according to the study.

The study says the state of infrastructure in many public facilities especially the old ones is in a sorry state and worst in provision of toilets and water and waste management.

About a third of hospitals did not have adequate toilets for ward patients while only about half had a hand-wash station.

About 42 per cent of toilets were not lit while in 15 per cent of wards men and women used the same toilets.

Only eight per cent of the facilities had toilets suitable for use by people with disabilities or the elderly while less than a third of the hospitals kept records on the cleaning of toilets.

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The team says many hospitals did not observe critical yet inexpensive practices that could significantly reduce diseases such as keeping cleaning records.

Drinking water

Only eight per cent of the assessed 116 wards in the 14 hospitals had safe storage of drinking water. At the same time, only about a third of the wards had stations for drinking water while 42 per cent did not have connected water taps.

The use of bed nets to protect patients against mosquito bites and possible malaria infection was only in a third of the wards. Only 11 per cent of the wards met the recommended distance between one bed and the next one.

The poor state of hygiene in public hospitals, the authors say, is mainly due to low funding and old infrastructure.

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