Nairobi’s biggest hospital is in a major crisis arising from shortage of drugs, even forcing admitted patients to buy own medication from private pharmaceutical shops.
Not even basic medications such as painkillers, which ordinarily retail for less than Sh10 a pair, were available to the hundreds of inpatients at the Mbagathi Hospital operated by the Nairobi County.
By Wednesday afternoon, the facility had run out of all medical supplies including laboratory reagents meaning that even illness investigations were conducted elsewhere.
All the medics could for patients seeking laboratory services was to direct them to nearby private facilities or the Kenyatta National Hospital – the country’s biggest public referral facility.
Collapse of service delivery at Mbagathi Hospital flies in the face of recent attempts to restock county hospitals by Governor Mike Sonko following a dispute with the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority over piling debts.
It would hence appear that Kemsa has ignored the directive issued by the Ministry of Health to continue supplies despite the outstanding dues, as negotiations about the settlement of the debts get underway.
Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki directed the medical supplies agency that the debts owed by Nairobi County estimated at Sh235 million should not stand in the way of servicing patients.
Medics who spoke to the Standard in confidence painted a hopeless picture of suffering patients, many too poor to buy own medication from the private drug stores.
“It is very devastating that our patients in the wards have to seek medication from outside,” said a medic who talked to the Standard in confidence.
Such patients would need helpers to buy the drugs including those that are administered through the drip to exacerbate an already dire situation.
Fears are rife that other essential supplies including foodstuff would soon be unavailable, grounding all services to a halt.
Among the biggest concerns for the patients, who are mainly from the poor neighbourhood of Kibera slums is budgeting for acquiring the medication in cash besides raising funds that would be paid before the they are released.
“We are finding it very difficult that even basic antibiotics are not available,” added another medic
At the heart of the confusion is the suspension of the hospital’s board of directors which is through to have crippled procurement, besides the ensuing standoff between the county and Kemsa.
Officials from Gov Sonko’s office denied knowledge of the crisis at the county’s biggest refereal facility whose catchment area extends to Ongata Rongai and Mama Lucy in Eastlands.