Key referral hospitals in Western and Nyanza regions are in deplorable conditions.
At the Kakamega County Referral Hospital, the situation is so bad that patients have to sleep on cartons as there are no mattresses.
The same situation is being experienced at Kisumu’s Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH).
Patients have reported being discharged before they fully recover in order to give space for incoming sick people.
And the reality of the suffering at Vihiga County Referral at Mbale town came to light when the area MP Yusuf Chanzu came face to face with disgrace at the facility during his tour.
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The legislator was shocked to find most patients using basins since toilets in the hospital had broken down.
In Kakamega, Priscilla Oparanya, the wife of the area governor, made an impromptu visit at the hospital after she received complaints from patients.
She found some patients sleeping on cartons and some on the floor. Movement at the facility has greatly been impaired as all available space has been taken up.
To make the matters worse, patients turn up with their own bedding to facilitate their admission to the facility.
Kakamega County Health Executive Peninah Mukabane disputed the information, saying some people were sleeping on cartons deliberately to tarnish the name of the county.
“The hospital is allocated Sh10 million every month. The people on the cartons are not patients. Some are taking care of the patients while others were put there to spoil the image of the county,” Ms Mukabane said.
But in apparent admission of the crisis, she added: “We are receiving more beds and mattresses on Friday. We gave the hospital Sh4.5 million in April last year to purchase beds. They have concluded the procurement process.”
Patients, mostly from the surgical ward, complained of lack of bedding and medicine.
“On Friday, there were protests by some staff complaining over the deplorable state at the hospital. I have visited four wards and found out that there are various challenges facing the health sector but I cannot reveal them to the media unless the management has been consulted. I will forward my report to the necessary ministry to tackle the situation and see how we can improve the facility,” Mrs Oparanya said.
She urged the management of the hospital to not to just sit in the office but go on the ground to establish the challenges facing the hospital.
“We have patients who have already been discharged but because they came from needy families, they are not able to pay medical bills. This leads to congestion. The management should find a way in which they can help them,” she noted.
Barbra Shakira from Malaba has been at the hospital for over a month after she was involved in a road accident and has no money to clear a bill of Sh32,000.
“I cannot sleep well because we are sleeping on cartons. My hand and chest were injured during the accident and I fear I might contract other diseases like pneumonia. I don’t have anyone to help me clear the bill,” Shakira said.
Kakamega County Referral Hospital Medical Superintendent John Akoto said lack of funds and free maternal delivery services had contributed to the situation, with the national government owing the hospital over Sh40 million.
“Inadequate funding makes us unable to pay suppliers on time. The free maternity money is not coming in and the national government has not paid us for more than a year, which adds to Sh40 million. That means we are providing services which no one is paying for. They are of low quality because we have overstretched the little income for operations,” Akoto said.
Kakamega County Referral Hospital Administrator Samwel Waweru said inadequate funding was a major challenge facing the health sector.
In Vihiga, Governor Moses Akaranga revealed the hospital was undergoing a Sh26 million facelift and had received Sh400 million equipment from the national government.
Chanzu however lamented that very little was being done to rectify the situation in the health sector.
At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, a patient’s relative who sought anonymity said his kin was discharged due to shortage of beds.
County Chief Officer Ojwang Lusi admitted the hospital had a bedding shortage, but said the problem can only be solved by equipping health centres and dispensaries to reduce cases of referrals.
Low funding and delayed release of free maternal funds has also affected the hospital, forcing the management to stretch its budget.