NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1- “There is nothing we can do!” was the response a visibly agitated Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu gave over the health crisis in the county on Wednesday.
The governor was ostensibly overwhelmed, just like the health facilities in Kiambu County.
A county where patients share beds, face an acute drugs shortage and to crown it all, inadequate food.
The Kiambu County health sector is ailing.
Such is the case at the Kiambu Level 5 Hospital where the well-manicured flowers and lawns can be deceptive.
It is deception that is quickly washed away as soon as one gets to the wards, where admitted patients are traumatized about the conditions more than their ailments.
But the shame of a failing services at the wards has spilled over to other departments in the facility.
Tabitha Wanjiku was seated on the verandah when Capital FM News visited the facility and from a distance, one could see she was in deep thoughts.
Her 16-year-old son who is suffering from diabetes has been admitted for several days now, and inside her bag, she tells us, she has to carry a syringe and prescribed medicine.
“Last night, I had to rush and buy a syringe and the prescribed medicine for the doctor to administer it to my son. They didn’t have any medicine,” Wanjiku said.
– The big question –
While tens of patients who spoke to Capital FM News admit there is an acute shortage of drugs at the hospital, many have questioned why they must be referred to specific chemists to make purchases. They suspect collusion.
“We want these chemists to be investigated. I suspect some are owned by health officers here,” a patient who sought anonymity said.
The concerns are shared widely.
During a tour of the facility, Waititu was at one point confronted by elderly patients asking for medicine.
“There are no drugs!” they shouted almost in unison.
– The maternity ward –
Inside the maternity ward, about five women whose kids are in the incubators are sharing one bed. It is crowded.
“Some have resorted to sleeping on the floor because the situation here is bad,” one only identified as Mercy said. “We all have our legs swollen because of the conditions here.”
The hospital also has a shortage of blankets, a fact admitted by Governor Waititu, who has promised to purchase more.
In one ward, this reporter saw two men with fractured legs sharing a bed. They say, it is “annoying but we have no options.”
The specific ward had double its capacity according to health officials at the facility.
“It is very hard to sleep at night more so because of our conditions,” one of the patients, John Gitau said.
– Governor Waititu shifts blame –
According to the governor, the influx of patients in Kiambu is an indication of the ‘good’ health services in the county.
And most of the patients, he says come from the neighbouring county of Nairobi.
“This hospital is giving good services. That is why so many people are coming here,” he asserted.
“There is nothing we can do. We cannot turn patients away. We have to make sure that they are admitted, and they have to sleep whether two or three (in one bed).”
About 1,000 patients are attended to at Kiambu Level 5 Hospital daily.
According to Waititu, the facility has 60 doctors and 180 nurses.
But to relieve the current 12 Level 4 and 5 hospitals in Kiambu County, he says some four more are under construction.
He also intends to expand the existing health facilities.
On the issue of drugs shortage, he said, “at any time, we have medicine for a certain ailment. But an ailment does not have one type of medicine. If we have one and two others are missing, it does not mean we don’t have drugs.”
He however says the county has purchased some more drugs and blankets.
Already, the Ministry of Health has sent officials to the county on a fact-finding mission, following an outcry from Kiambu residents.