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Are counties ready for Covid-19 second peak?

Health & Science - By Graham Kajilwa | November 5th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

The spike in Covid-19 infections in the country has reopened the debate on the preparedness of counties as cases continue to rise.

Despite a Sh5 billion grant given to the 47 counties by the national government in June, the country still could not attain the required bed capacity.

The national target is to have 30,500 isolation beds, with each county having at least 300. As of October, there were barely 19,000 isolation beds.

Apart from the Sh5 billion, the counties also got disbursements from the national government, which partly were from donors, including the World Bank, which gave the country Sh5 trillion in April for Covid-19 response.

Of the Sh13.1 billion disbursed to counties, however, according to a report tabled before the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Covid-19, only Sh3.43 billion of the funds had been utilised.

A portion of the 300 beds per county, as explained by Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman, are to be converted to set up intensive care units.

The country so far has 319 ICU beds as per the data from the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC).

Compared with the rising cases requiring critical care, and that apart from Covid-19 there are still patients diagnosed with other illnesses who might require ICU, the number is low.

As of Monday, there were 54 patients in ICU; 26 who on ventilatory support and 28 on supplementary oxygen.

Makueni County Health Executive Andrew Mulwa said as the pandemic gets to a second peak, the country might need up to 500 ICU beds.

“But to reach 500 ICU beds it will require a few weeks,” said Dr Mulwa.

He, however, warned that this disease is not the type where one stays in the ICU for just three days and they are moved to the general ward. “Even as we talk about 500 ICU beds, we have to put it into perspective since that bed might be available for a whole month to that one patient,” he said.

Kenya Medical Association Chairman Andrew Suleh, however, says the question of counties’ preparedness with regards to the number of beds is misplaced.

“…counties never bothered to employ more trained health workers, not even stock enough PPEs and other consumables,” said Dr Suleh.

According to Mulwa, after the first peak passed in July, there was a slack in ensuring continuous preparedness.

A report by the Council of Governors dated October 15 states that 43 counties have trained and sensitised 4,860 healthcare workers and 8,602 community health volunteers.

“Cumulatively to date, 113,070 healthcare workers and 94,231 community health volunteers have been trained and senstitised across the 47 county governments,” said Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.

Health workers, however, say lack of training and provision of PPEs is the reason behind the increasing infections.

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