Covid takes heavy toll on medics amid deaths

Covid vaccine

A nurse prepares to administer a Covid-19 vaccine to a patient at the Milimani Law Courts Nairobi on September 13, 2021. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Data collected and analysed by the Ministry of Health paints a worrying picture on the rate of Covid-19 infection and deaths among health care workers in the country. 

According to a report released yesterday, on Monday, alone, the country lost three health care workers, and three others were infected with the virus. 

From the data, more than 7,466 health professionals have been infected in all the 47 counties, with about 50 deaths. However, according to Mr George Gibore, the secretary general of the Kenya Union of Clinical officers, the number is likely higher, due to under-reporting by the Ministry of Health as a result of lack of testing, counting, or transparency.  

Out of all the reported cases, 6,028 (81 per cent) were asymptomatic, with only 1,438 showing symptoms of the infection. 

Nairobi County is leading in the number of health care workers infected, with 1,787 cases, Uasin Gishu (640), Kiambu (528), Mombasa (496), Nakuru (431), Busia (264), Kajiado (248), Machakos (232), Garissa (209), Kilifi (193), Turkana (176), Kitui (175) and Kakamega (171), with the rest of the counties recording 1,916 cases. 

Getting threats

Mr Gibore yesterday told the Nation that when Covid-19 was first reported in the country, they would get the data from their members, however, the members stopped after getting threats. 

“We would get the data and then put pressure on the ministry to equip the health care workers, however, they threatened our members and insisted that it is only the ministry that can announce the figures. We stopped keeping the records,” Mr Gibore said. 

“If we would still be keeping records, the numbers would be more than what they are reporting,” he said. 

Dr Davji Bhimji Atella, the secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), said the number of health care workers succumbing to the virus has been high and is due to some of them refusing to take the vaccine. 

“We stopped counting but what I know is that the numbers have been high, and yesterday we lost a doctor. Many of them are not fully vaccinated and this increases their risk of getting infected, especially when they have underlying conditions,” Dr Atella said. 

Fully vaccinated

According to the data, only 65 per cent of healthcare workers are fully vaccinated. The rest either have only had their first dose or they have not totally gone for the jab. 

From the data, more than 210,700 health care workers have had their first jab, while 137,115 have been fully vaccinated, with the target of 208, 418, meaning about 71,303 health care workers are yet to take their second dose. 

“You can only be safe when you are fully vaccinated. This is the only way we can get protected from getting severe illness. When the vaccines are available, I don’t see why someone should fail to get vaccinated,” Dr Atella said. 

A total of 3,099,807 vaccines have been administered across the country -- 2,270,827 first doses and 828,980 second doses. 

The uptake rate of the second dose on Monday stood at 36.5 percent, with the majority being male (56 per cent) while the proportion of adults who are fully vaccinated was 3.04 per cent.

However, the ministry pointed out that stigmatisation and discrimination against those who suspect they have Covid-19 is affecting willingness to seek testing and management of cases, likely leading to further spread of the disease.  

“There is also a shortage of sampling kits across several counties affecting testing of suspected cases, contacts, and limiting overall access to testing,” states the report.

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