A health worker talks to her colleagues as they prepare to receive the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine under the COVAX scheme against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya March 5. Kenya's positivity rate is now 17.5 per cent after 1,335 people tested positive for the virus from a sample size of 7,605 on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

A doctors’ lobby has raised the alarm over surging COVID-19 infections in Kenya, saying that the country’s healthcare system is in deep crisis.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary-General, Dr Davji Atellah, said the country is grappling with a shortage of doctors and nurses, a scenario that is putting thousands of patients’ lives in danger.

According to Dr Davji, only Tigoni Level 4 Hospital has an ICU facility in Kiambu County and it is already overwhelmed, while Gatundu hospital has no Covid-19 isolation ward. The populous county has just 300 doctors serving more than 2.4 million residents.

“In the central region, all the ICU beds are filled up, the Western region has 18 beds in Kisumu and Nyanza there are only three beds,” Dr Davji said, adding: “We are in a crisis as a country.”

KMPDU is now demanding that the government hires additional doctors and is criticizing Kenya’s decision to send some nurses to the United Kingdom rather than solve the local shortfall first.

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KMPDU deputy secretary-general Dennis Mbegah noted that currently there are inadequate medical personnel resulting in a ratio of one doctor for every 16,000 patients.

One doctor has to cover an entire isolation unit, while ICUs are run by junior medical officers.

As a result, he adds that healthcare workers are made to work for long hours, leading to fatigue, while some patients with manageable conditions end up dying because of a lack of adequate care and attention.

“I can confidently say that the patients dying in Kenya are not dying from Covid-19, they are dying from other issues because Covid-19 affects other organs, it affects sugar, lungs, and what is killing them is that lack of supportive care,” he said.

In the latest reports by the Ministry of Health, a total of 1,587 Covid-19 patients are admitted to various health facilities countrywide, 178 patients are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 43 of whom are on ventilatory support and 118 on supplemental oxygen.

Thirty patients succumbed to the virus, one of them in the last 24 hours while 29 are late deaths reported after conducting facility record audits in July and August, pushing Kenya’s cumulative fatalities to 4,025.

The country’s positivity rate is now 17.5 per cent after 1,335 people tested positive for the virus from a sample size of 7,605 in the last 24 hours.

The total confirmed infections now stand at 206,691 while cumulative tests so far conducted are 2,156,981.

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