The dream to give accessible and affordable health care has been expressed by many leaders in Kenya.
It dates back to more than five decades ago when the country’s independent leaders vowed to eliminate the three major enemies of the people: Poverty, illiteracy and disease. These challenges remain, although the country has over the years sustained efforts to tackle them, with some achievements.
In the health sector, the government, private sector and faith-based organisations have been investing in setting up, equipping and facilitating affordable health care to the common mwananchi.
The health landscape has also changed over time. General improvements have been witnessed, save for the emerging problem of increasing incidences of non-communicable diseases countrywide.
Kirinyaga County happens to have a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases, including cancer, diabetes and hypertension. With health care being a devolved function since 2013, the county government has made significant investments in the sector towards taking care of this challenge as well as ordinary medical needs.
The county government has spent heavily towards improving the state of county hospitals by adding facilities not previously available in the county.
These have improved access to treatment by county residents, in addition to reducing the cost of treatment and previous inconveniences of having to travel distances, often to Nairobi, for treatment.
The county government is in the final stages of upgrading Kerugoya Hospital from a level-four to a level-five facility, to make it Kerugoya County Referral Hospital (KCRH).
Part of this has entailed refurbishing some infrastructure, among them the outpatient wing and TB isolation ward, as well as auxiliary facilities such as the Kitchen, laundry, incinerator and others.
The mega improvement here has entailed construction of a new complex at the hospital, containing a total of 342 beds. Five of these are in the theatre recovery section. The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has 15 beds, while the High Dependency Unit (HDU) has six. Other bed allocations are eight in operation theatres, 30 in the paediatric surgical wards, 14 in the burns unit, and 36 in the female medical wards.
The paediatrics medical ward (Wing B), female and male surgical wards (Wing A), have 48, 36 and 54 beds respectively. The Oncology wards, both male and female (Wing A), have 36 beds, while the male medical wards (Wing B) have 54 beds.
CT Scan centre
The county government has set up a CT scan centre in Kerugoya Hospital to improve imaging, diagnosis and treatment of the patients.
Word from the county government is that the Sh1.2 billion complex will be ready in December 2021.
Meanwhile, the county government has completed and equipped numerous specialized clinics. They include Kerugoya and Kianyaga eye units, Sagana X-ray Centre, Kimbimbi and Kianyaga maternity wards and Baricho male ward.
The county government is in the process of upgrading Kiririmbi and Kianyaga hospitals from level-three to level-four facilities.
Kirinyaga County Government has also constructed and equipped 19 dispensaries across the county including dispensaries to ensure health care services are available much closer to the grassroots.
Among the facilities lined up for operationalization are Joshua Mbai laboratory, Kiamugumo, Kiandai, Ngariama, Kiamwathi, Kavote, Ndaba and Kianjiru dispensaries among others.
The County’s Chief Officer of Health, Dr Muriithi Nyaga said that at the dispensaries, residents are able to access outpatient services that include TB treatment, pre-natal and post-natal services and pharmacy services among others.
“They will also be able to get early detection of ailments that may require further investigation and treatment for which they can be referred to more advanced facilities,” Nyaga said.
The county government has completed the construction of an isolation ward at Kerugoya County Hospital, which will go a long way in ensuring adherence to TB treatment plans as well as proper medical assessment.
The 24-bed capacity isolation ward is however currently being used as Covid-19 isolation ward but will be reverted to TB centre when an alternative Covid isolation ward is set up in the upcoming medical complex at the hospital.
TB is a contagious airborne disease that is spread when people with the disease cough, sneeze or spit. It has been put as one the diseases that compound the problem of coronavirus disease.
In an effort to prevent and manage TB in Kirinyaga, the county government is sensitis
ing health care givers and community health workers who in turn educate the masses on TB prevention, timely diagnosis and seeking relevant medical attention.
The health services department is also educating the public on TB infection prevention and control measures such as cough hygiene, opening windows in congested rooms and seeking treatment for those with active TB.
According to the health records the county has a high TB burden with a case notification rate of 245/100,000 by 2018. Drug resistant cases have also increased by 50 percent between 2016 and 2018 which has been attributed to poor adherence to the prescribed regimen.
TB remains a major public health problem and the leading killer of people living with HIV despite the fact it is a preventable, treatable and curable disease.
The Public Health Act CAP 242, section 17 classifies TB as a notifiable infectious disease. The act states that those suffering from the notifiable infectious diseases should be isolated in a designated place and detained while taking medication until the assessment by a Medical Officer of Health ascertains that the person is free from infection and can be discharged without endangering public health.