Oxygen tank

An oxygen bulk tank at Kenyatta National Hospital, Othaya Annex in Nyeri county on May 7, 2021. Many hospitals did not make use of the ventilators provided by the government to battle coronavirus.

| File | Nation Media Group 

Kenyans died of Covid-19 as ventilators lay idle in public hospitals

What you need to know:

  • At Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital in Nairobi, 18 ventilators were received to help in the treatment.
  • Special audit report shows that the machines were not in use because the hospital does not have an ICU.

At least six of the 11 hospitals in counties that received 75 ventilators from the national government to help in the treatment of Covid-19, did not use them because they lacked capacity to operate them, an audit has revealed.

A special audit into the use of the Covid-19 funds from March 13, 2020, when Covid-19 was first reported in the country, to July 31, 2020, shows the counties received the ventilators for use in their level three, four, five, and in referral hospitals.  

However, the findings by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu that are currently before the National Assembly, paint a gloomy picture on the country’s preparedness to deal with the global pandemic.  

The audit to confirm the lawfulness and effectiveness of the expenditure incurred was sanctioned by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.  

It shows that while some hospitals used the machines for the intended purpose, others had them either transferred to other hospitals that could use them, while others left them unused in stores and in their original packaging.  

The counties with the hospitals that received the ventilators as per the special audit report included Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Nakuru, Kitui, Mandera, Nyeri, Taita Taveta and Laikipia.  

“The ventilators were dispatched to some hospitals that were not ready, hence they were not installed and were still in their original packaging,” says the special audit report. 

Covid-19 hotspot

For instance, although Kajiado County received five ventilators for the Ngong Level 4 Hospital, all of them were still wrapped in their original packaging, four months after the pandemic was first reported in Kenya despite being required urgently to save lives.  

Ruiru sub-county hospital in Kiambu received five ventilators but they were not installed because the hospital was not ready for installation by the time of the audit. 

At Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital in Nairobi, 18 ventilators were received to help in the treatment. However, a look at the special audit report shows that the machines were not in use because it did not have an ICU.

“The items were in store as at the time of the audit,” reads the report. 

This is notwithstanding that other than the high population in Nairobi, it was the hotspot of the disease in the country and therefore required more ventilators to save lives.  

The report also shows that although five ventilators were sent to Nyahururu Level 4 hospital in Laikipia, they could not be received because there was no ICU.  Instead, the machines were taken to the Critical Care Unit (CCU) of the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital.  

At Kauwi Level 4 hospital in Kitui, the script is the same.  The five ventilators were received at the facility but they were not put to use at the time of the audit because the hospital did not have an ICU. The machines were still in the store at the time of the audit.  

Spread of Covid-19

At Nakuru’s Langa Langa Level 3 hospital, five ventilators were received on June 11, 2020. The audit shows that on October 6, 2020, two units were issued to Annex Provincial General Hospital (PGH) with the remaining three issued to PGH Nakuru on October 7, 2020. 

Othaya Level 5 hospital in Nyeri received five ventilators but instead, had them transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH, Nairobi.  

Despite the hospitals in the counties lacking the capacity, others did well. All the 15 ventilators received by the Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital (KUTRH) in Nairobi were in use at the time of the audit.  

The same goes for Kamor Infectious Disease Hospital in Mandera, which received two ventilators, Mwatate Level 3 hospital in Taita Taveta and Tigoni Level 4 hospital in Kiambu that got five ventilators each. 

The ventilators were acquired courtesy of the significant assistance that the national government received from various development partners to help in the treatment and suppression the spread of Covid-19.  

The various development partners include the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (ADB), and the European Union (EU).

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