The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) now wants Kenyans in need of medical care that is only available in Nairobi or Mombasa counties allowed to be allowed to access those facilities in wake of the partial lockdown.
The government has outlawed entry into and exit from Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa and an expanded Nairobi Metropolitan Area.
A countrywide curfew is also being enforced to control the spread of the coronavirus disease.
However, ICJ wants the government to give directions on how Kenyans who might need access to health care facilities during the designated curfew hours can do so without contravening the curfew or being subjected to harassment by law enforcement agencies.
In their submissions to the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 situation, the Jurists said that they are concerned on the access of medical services at Kenyatta National Hospital and its capacity to continue providing other health services to patients other than those seeking treatment for coronavirus disease.
“Of particular concern are those in need of life-supporting treatments such as hemodialysis, and those who will require to access major hospitals in Nairobi and Mombasa from outside in the event of medical emergencies,” read part of the submissions by ICJ Kenya President Kelvin Mogeni to the committee chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja.
Mogeni added: “In the wake of the indiscriminate and harsh enforcement of the curfew by the police, ICJ Kenya is concerned that without addressing the issue of access to health and to health centres, especially from those immediately outside Nairobi and Mombasa, we may witness further violations and there is need to have clear directions on the same.”
The jurists lament that hospitals are taking measures to decongest their facilities in line with the guidelines on physical distancing, meaning the number of patients being admitted in a health facility at any one time is limited.
“This calls for enhancement of the capacity of our health facilities at all levels, not only of medical officers and other personnel but also of infrastructure and medical equipment to ensure Kenyans can access health care services,” they noted.
As such, ICJ wants measures instituted to ensure that the rights of health care workers are respected by specifically, ensuring all health workers have access to sufficient protective gear to avoid infection and that they are also sufficiently compensated in instances where they work for extended hours.
They also want the enhancement of capacities of other hospitals in terms of personnel and infrastructural and equipment capacity, even if by temporary measures, to ensure Kenyans are able to access health care.