, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 23 – A new survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and the National Taxpayers Association (NTA) in Level 3 hospitals has revealed an acute shortage of drugs and understaffing of health workers.
The analysis done in seven health facilities in Nairobi, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Machakos and Nyeri indicates that the centers have a combined workforce of 146, an average of 20 employees per facility, against a government’s ideal ratio of 43 employees.
The report dubbed ‘Health Community Scorecard’ identifies Mai Mahiu as the most understaffed with a workforce of 12 employees per facility.
NTA National Governing Council Member Latif Shaban says the shortage of drugs and healthcare workers has significantly affected the cost of accessing healthcare as patients have to bear the additional cost at private hospitals.
“We note with a lot of concern the lack of medicines in our health facilities. Shortage of drugs is only getting worse as counties take over health services. Patients have to fend for prescribed medicines from private units as public pharmacists do not stock enough drugs,” he said.
“We appreciate the Jubilee government for the directive to provide free maternity services. However this directive is not fully functional since some facilities are not offering these services for some reason or the other. This state of affairs raises the urgent need for counties to regularly review stock levels allocated to their health facilities.”
According to the findings, only half of the facilities surveyed offered full maternity services at the time of the review in areas such as Chepkanga, Dandora, Kiganjo, Mai Mahiu, Masii, Matungulu, Naru Moru and Turbo Health Centers.
Some health facilities like Dandora II and Masii health centers do not provide maternity services.
Launching the Health Score Card Report, Assistant Director of Medical Services Abel Nyakiongora says there is need for information sharing and open channels of communications to help improve health services in the country.
Nyakiongora says citizen participation will enhance service delivery by mobilising the community to engage with the service providers to demand accountability.
“Participation of the people in its own can solve a lot of problems. One of the tools we can use for this is the Community Score card, where the people come together interrogate the services and ultimately make an action plan together with the facilities and therefore implement them. Taking to account all the elements of participation is a critical element and a critical reform in service delivery,” he said.
The report further revealed poor emergency response in all health facilities surveyed. According to the study, none of the sampled facilities offered ambulance services to their communities.
While the ministry outlines that health facilities operate 24 hours and 7 days a week, only a handful of these facilities operated sometimes 24 hours. These include Kiganjo, Naru Moru, Turbo, Masii and Mai Mahiu Health centres.
In addition, the facilities that operated 24 hours did not have all the laboratory and pharmacy operational on weekends and at night undermining the very essence of a functional hospital.