Public hospitals lack capacity to fight rising Covid-19 cases

Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital

One of the entrances to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County. Such a hospital needs to have a workforce of 3,263.  

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Level three hospitals are required by the human resource norms to have 114 to 137 employees, made up of health and support personnel.
  • Level four hospitals are required by the norms to maintain a health worker complement of approximately 620 across nearly 80 health cadres.

Public hospitals in Kenya lack capacity and personnel to handle the rapidly increasing cases of coronavirus and sustaining the universal health coverage (UHC), a new report by the Ministry of Health says. 

The report that was tabled at the Senate Health Committee by Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi ranks human resource the lowest in the many categories.

Some 1,887 hospitals of all levels were assessed between September and October 30 by a team comprising 152 officers under the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council.

“Human resource was the lowest scoring category in Covid-19 preparedness and response levels and the UHC systems,” the report reads. 

“In phase II of the UHC, the human resource assessments averaged 36 per cent, revealing extreme inadequacy and deficits in staffing.”

According to the study, level two and three hospitals have between 15 and 25 per cent of the required personnel while level four and six staffing ranges upwards of 40 per cent.

Meeting requirements

The report by the ministry says only about 12 per cent of level two hospitals can meet the staffing requirements spelt out in the standards.

“The majority of the hospitals lack the requisite number of employees as required by the norms and standards,” the report goes on. 

“The findings for every hospital level reveals significant inabilities to meet the full staff complement recommended.”

Level two hospitals are required by the classification standards of the ministry to have 29 to 37 employees comprising at least 20 across the cadres of community health nurses, pharmaceutical, occupational therapists, health promotion officers, laboratory technologists and nutrition and public health technicians.

Health and support personnel

Level three hospitals are required by the human resource norms to have 114 to 137 employees, made up of health and support personnel.

Level four hospitals are required by the norms to maintain a health worker complement of approximately 620 across nearly 80 health cadres and other support staff, Dr Mwangangi told the lawmakers. 

It is estimated from the findings that level four hospitals meet approximately 30 to 35 per cent of the prescribed human resource norms.

“In general, less than 10 per cent of the hospitals meet the requirements for every cadre, with 30-50 per cent of the medical institutions trying to meet the requirements partially,” the report goes on. 

“More than 60 per cent of level four hospitals are unable to meet their staffing requirements.”

Level five hospitals are required by the human resource standards to maintain a health worker complement of approximately 1,469.

“It is estimated from the findings that level five hospitals are indicatively meeting approximately 40 per cent of the prescribed staffing norms,” the report by the ministry reads. 

Level six hospitals are required by the human resources norms to maintain a health worker complement of approximately 3,263 across 100 cadres and other support staff.

The report says that for level six hospitals, the average score was 65 per cent, reflecting reasonable albeit non optimal staffing levels.

According to the report, though level six hospitals show a higher level of staffing estimated up to 65 per cent, the overall status of is concerning. 

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