By Lorna Kigen
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 over as a global health emergency . However, that does not mean COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.
The WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says, “The worst thing any country could do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that COVID-19 is nothing to worry about.”
In Elgeyo Marakwet County cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the last week. However, if anyone falls critically ill, it is likely that there won’t be an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward readily available.
As early as 2020, funds were allocated to purchase 10 ICU beds but were the money utilized well?
With these cosmic amounts one would expect quality health care in both governments but this is not the case. Access to quality primary health care is still a pipe dream, one that COVID-19 pandemic managed to unearth.
Kenya as a Nation has only 518 Intensive care Unit beds. Out of these 439 had already been occupied by patients across the country. Nairobi County has the highest number of ICU beds at 247.
According to Hon. Shadrack Lulley, a former member of the Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly, who was also the chairperson of the Health committee ,the assembly set aside Ksh.30M.(They allocated the 30M to the Iten county referral hospital in 2020 to assist in the fight against COVID-19.)
With these colossal amounts one would expect that there would be access to an ICU bed in Elgeyo Marakwet County for patients in need.
According to the Ministry of health an ICU bed costs upto 8 million which would mean with 30M,the county would have around 4 ICU beds. According to the Ministry of Health before the Covid- 19 cases were reported in Kenya,there was no single ICU bed in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
He indicated that the county was among the counties that didn’t have many cases with only nearly 3 cases that were critical and needed critical attention.
The Ministry of Health recorded only 228 Covid -19 confirmed cases in Elgeyo Marakwet County .
Jackline Kaben a covid 19 survivor from the Elgeyo Marakwet County recounted that when she fell Ill in the year 2020 July, he was admitted at the Iten County Referral Hospital and later requested to be referred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital where she thought she could get better services given that she had blood pressure, she shared that her family did not want to risk it Incase her condition got worse and be in need of an ICU bed.Jackline opines that there was no ICU bed readily available for her.
Dr. Darwin Ambuka , KMPDU Chairperson, North rift region, notes , “There has never been accountability in the whole country with regards to Covid 19 funds and not even in Elgeyo Marakwet County.He said there were issues with covid funds and how they were spent.”
“The government and the county governments MUST carry out a financial audit review over the Covid -19 Funds ” he added
“Upto now the audit on how Covid funds were utilized for the last 3years has never been established because Covid 19 money was not full proof and so it’s possible that the Covid funds may have been used otherwise,their is no way one can ascertain, Only auditors can unravel the spending of Covid Funds allocated to Elgeyo Marakwet County” Doctor Ambuka added
Only through a proper audit system can we ascertained how Covid money were spent in the purchase of personal protective equipment’s PPE, Covid-19 sensitization,home based care,ICU patients and also caring for the covid staff,He adds.
The Ministry of Health Kenya recommends that a county hospital should have at least 10 intensive care units beds and 10 High Dependent Units beds because a patient who recovers from ICU goes to HDU. and also the ICU staff that attend to the patients.
More than three years later, the virus has caused an estimated 764 million cases globally and about 5 billion people have received at least one dose of vaccine.
This feature was produced as a result of capacity Building Workshop for journalists on Investigative Journalism & Accurate Reporting on public finance ,With the assistance of Association of Media Women in Kenya in partnership with Hivos East Africa.