The sorry state of health facilities, understaffing in Kiambu County

Near-empty pharmacy shelves at Kihara Level Four Hospital in the populous Kiambu County. [George Njunge, Standard]

There are growing concerns over the poor state of health facilities in Kiambu, even as once-functioning hospitals deteriorate to a point of shutdown.

Some hospitals are staring at closure, a move that may leave Kiambu residents at the mercy of private hospitals and rogue back street medics.

In some facilities, one is greeted by strewn medical refuse, dirty verandahs, leaking roofs, demotivated staff, empty drug shelves and dry taps.

The worst hit is Kihara Level Four Hospital in Gachie, Kiambaa Constituency, which has seen residents hold demonstrations to get their voices heard after services hit rock bottom.

When The Standard visited the facility, the hospital was in dire need of supplies and staff. There was also a lack of electricity and water.

The level four hospital with a mortuary, maternity, kitchen and with medicine that requires refrigeration had not had any power for the last couple of days.

A kitchen at  Kihara Level Four Hospital in Gachie. [George Njunge, Standard]

The situation has affected services to the public, pushing them to picket. On February 23, medics staged a protest in Kiambu town and threatened to strike again if Governor Kimani Wamatangi fails to address their plight, which included poor working conditions.

The medics complained of delayed salaries which they termed as a trend in the county and which was affecting their morale. The county government blamed the power interruptions on heavy rains.

“The County Government Kiambu wishes to inform members of the public that Kihara Hospital is experiencing a major power outage following the ongoing heavy rains which interfered with the main Kenya Power underground power line cables,” said County Executive for Health Services Dr Elius Maina.

In the statement released Sunday, Dr Maina said a team from Kenya Power was carrying out excavation works to rectify the problem for immediate power restoration.

“The County Government would like to state that there is a backup generator at the hospital that is working 24 hours to ensure patients are getting the best possible service around the clock without interruption,” said Dr Maina.

The county official also refuted claims of lack of medicine in the hospital. “The facility is also fully stocked with drugs and non-pharmaceutical supplies to ensure efficient service delivery. We anticipate that the problem will be rectified in three days,” said Dr Maina.

Gachie youth display a dilapidated wheelchair at Kihara Level Four Hospital. [George Njunge, Standard]Caption

Joseph Karanja a resident of Kihara said that the hospital is a shell of its former self.

“It is a shame that such a well-built hospital with all the necessary infrastructure is now on its knees. The hospital is understaffed, litter is strewn everywhere, no department is working and actually, most sections are closed for lack of equipment or personnel,” Karanja said

Karanja added that Kihara and Gachie being the most populous places in Kiambaa Constituency, require the hospitals to be in their best form to serve the population.

“Bringing a woman here to give birth is tantamount to dicing with death, and especially if the child would need incubation as there is no electricity here, no water,” said Karanja. “The generator that was procured a while ago does not function at all, even the mortuary is not functioning. We are taking our departed loved ones to Kiambu Level 5 Hospital or in private morgues.”

Peter Mburu another resident of the Gachie said the state of some hospitals in Kiambu is worrying.

“This is a hospital that serves people from Ndenderu, Gathiga, Ruaka and even Wangige. This is a cold area and you find kitchen staff warming water for patients under the sun,” said Mburu.

A spot check in the hospital revealed a sorry state of affairs, almost all the departments were not working and were closed down.

Hole in the roof of a consultation room at  Kihara Level Four Hospital in Gachie. [George Njunge, Standard]

The few staff in the hospital were sitting in darkness, the pharmacy was closed and hospital waste including syringes, needles and cotton wool had filled up the dust bins. Jesca Awinja, another resident said the doctor-to-patient ratio in Kihara and most Kiambu hospitals are wanting.

Awinja said one doctor in Kihara attends to maternity wing before seeing the children’s ward, supervising the plastering of patients and is also expected to attend the general ward.

“We would even want the doctors to perform but how are they expected to work when they are greatly outnumbered by the patients,” Awinja posed

A medic at the facility said that the county has been engaging in public relations exercise that does not improve the status of the facilities.

Tigoni Level Four Hospital, a few kilometres away however has water and electricity but like Kihara Hospital, the facility does not have consistent supplies of medicine.

“Our cries for supplies have been landing on deaf ears. We feel bad when we send patients to buy drugs. We have been accused of colluding with private pharmacies but the truth is that the health sector in Kiambu is on its deathbed,” said a medic at Tigoni Hospital.

Ndeiya Health Centre also lacks adequate drugs and refers patients to other medical facilities.

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