Covid-19: Kericho to build Sh67m oxygen plant

Kericho County Finance Executive Patrick Mutai

Kericho County Finance Executive Patrick Mutai.

Photo credit: File | Timothy Kemei | Nation Media Group

In a bid to fix perennial oxygen shortages at its health facilities amid a pandemic, the Kericho County Government has allocated Sh67 million in its 2021/2022 fiscal year to put up a plant for the key commodity. 

Currently, the county sources oxygen used in its health facilities from BOC Ltd company, an arrangement the devolved unit is seeking to wriggle out of and be self-sufficient.

The county’s health department is among major beneficiaries of the Sh8.6 billion budget with an allocation of Sh2.2 billion as recurrent expenditure and Sh230 million for development.

Dr Patrick Mutai, the County Executive Committee (CEC) in charge of Finance, Economic Planning and Head of County Treasury, said feasibility studies on the project have been completed, adding that Kericho hopes to one day produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute.

“Due to the acute shortage of oxygen in our health facilities as a result of increased demand due to Covid-19 I propose Sh67 million to be allocated for construction of an oxygen plant to be installed at the Kericho County Referral Hospital,” said Dr Mutai in a budget speech presented at the county assembly on Tuesday evening.

The money will be used to put up a building a structure, install oxygen plant equipment, piping works, supply of oxygen cylinders, and a motor vehicle for transporting oxygen cylinders to health facilities in the county.

“Once the plant is operational, Kericho County will be self-sufficient with cheaper oxygen. Surplus oxygen will be supplied to neighbouring counties and private health facilities to generate revenue,” stated Dr Mutai.

“Despite the limited resources in the backdrop of Covid-19, our facilities rank top in delivery of service. With continued modernisation and face lift of the county referral hospital, we endevour to become a medical tourism destination,” he added. 

The county has also set aside Sh53.6 million for completion of health centres and dispensaries, ablution blocks for health facilities, refurbishment and maintenance of existing facilities in all its 29 civic wards.

A further Sh59.8 million has been earmarked for purchase of medical and dental equipment, equipping of maternity wings, laboratories and surgical wards in level II and III facilities in the county’s six constituencies of Ainamoi, Kipkelion East, Kipkelion West, Soin/Sigowet, Belgut and Bureti.