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Baringo’s readiness for virus questioned by local medics

By Julius Chepkwony and Mercy Kahenda | Apr 10th 2020 | 4 min read

Kabarnet County Hospital. Health professionals in Baringo County say the county is ill-prepared to handle Covid-19 cases. [Joseph Kipsang, Standard]

Medical professionals have raised concerns that Baringo County is not well prepared to handle Covid-19 patients.

Interviews with a number of medics yesterday painted a picture of health facilities with few wards and fewer beds, while health professionals who are supposed to handle the patients lack kits and protective gear.

Kenya Nurses Association of Kenya Baringo branch chairperson Elizabeth Yator said nurses are yet to be trained on the basics of handling the pandemic.

“We are risking our lives and those of our families. We cannot assist patients if we do not protect ourselves. We have tried asking the county government for assistance but in vain,” said Ms Yator.

Isolation ward

The county government has set up one isolation ward for Covid-19 patients at Kaptimbor Health Centre and another at Eldama Ravine Sub-county Hospital.

The Kaptimbor ward has 12 beds. Two electric beds were donated by Baringo Central MP Joshua Kandie.

Seven people suspected to have come into contact with a Covid-19 patient were on Wednesday placed under mandatory quarantine at Eldama Ravine Sub-county Hospital.

Medics handling them, however, feel they are not protected well enough from infection and want the seven individuals moved to Nakuru Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital.

A healthcare worker at the facility who sought anonymity said the isolation ward has no special equipment.

Medical personnel, according to the worker, have not been equipped with protective equipment and will soon down their tools if the issue is not addressed.

Isaiah Biwott, a resident, said he is concerned that county hospitals cannot offer any specialised treatment. Instead, they refer patients to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital.

A 2018-2022 report by the department of health released early this year indicates that healthcare facilities in Baringo County are operating below conventional standards.

The County Strategic report posted on the county government website indicates that a review of infrastructure and machinery at various public hospitals reveals their poor status.

The report especially pointed at the  Baringo County Level Four Hospital in Kabarnet town. The hospital which is supposed to be a referral centre was faulted for its poor standards. 

The facility, according to the report, does not have specialised equipment for the Intensive Care Unit. It also does not have a dialysis centre and a CT scan.

Other hospitals in the county too have their challenges. Kabartonjo sub-county hospital which has 30 beds has an X ray unit and a newly completed theatre, but both have yet to be put into operation.

Marigat, Chemolingot and Mogotio sub-county hospitals have wards with 40 beds, 20 beds and 60 beds respectively.

No theatres

The three hospitals do not have theatres. The department of health noted that its biggest priority is to scale up specialised service provision at level four facilities according to established standards.

X-ray services, it noted, should be offered at all level four hospitals. Over the past five years, the county acquired 14 ambulances bringing the total to 22. Maintenance of the ambulances, however, remains a challenge since people are not charged for ambulance services.

The poor road network in Baringo County has also made it expensive to maintain ambulances and utility vehicles.

The county has found itself relying on motorcycles and bicycles to reach communities in the periphery.

Baringo County Health Executive Mary Panga said her department has allocated Sh6 million to the fight against coronavirus.

The money, she said, will be used to buy medical equipment that will be distributed to hospitals.

“Currently, we have allocated funds from the emergency medical kitty to train our health workers and equip hospitals to handle coronavirus, in case it shows up here,” said Ms Panga.

She noted that at least 100 health workers have been trained to deal with the disease. The county has 1,200 health workers.

Train employees

Panga said the county is targeting to train all health employees on the basics of fighting coronavirus, for example how to observe patients, collect laboratory samples and test them.

“These cases can be reported in any locality, that is why we need all medics to know what they are expected to do if they encounter an infected person ,” she said.

Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis maintained that the county has enough isolation wards. He also said his administration has purchased protective gear for doctors and nurses.

Mr Kiptis urged locals to adhere to laid down preventive measures to control the spread of the deadly virus.

He said it is yet to record any coronavirus case. “So far, we have set aside two isolation wards and purchased protective gear to be utilised by trained health workers dealing with suspected cases,” Kiptis said.

Covid 19 Time Series


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