A parliamentary committee has asked the Ministry of Health to ensure that no patient Is turned away over lack of space or bed capacity in either public or private hospitals as the country battles with the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Senate Health Committee wants the Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe to strictly enforce provisions of the Public Health Act to ensure all Kenyans get access to health services.
“In such a time as this where the country is in crisis, we demand that these provisions of the Public Health Act be put in full force,” the committee said in a report tabled on the floor by Chairman Michael Mbito on Tuesday, March 30.
Mbito reckoned that the CS should use the powers bestowed on him by the Act to safeguard the rights of Kenyans to access health services.
The upsurge in the number of Covid 19 cases has seen most hospitals across the country stretched to capacity.
The intensive care units in hospitals have been stretched beyond limit due to Covid-19 admissions as the third wave of infections ravages the country.
Health officials said ICUs are near or in some cases past capacity.
The major referral hospitals have run out of beds in their Intensive Care Units (ICU), with many more on the brink of being overwhelmed as Covid-19 hospitalizations spike.
Patient demands have outstripped both general and ICU bed capacity, forcing some facilities to either turn away patients or devise alternative ways to cope with the increasing numbers.
As of Monday, March 29, the Ministry of Health had confirmed 131, 116 cases from 1, 742, 230 cumulative tests so far conducted.
“We appeal to the Ministry of Health to review all its treatment guidelines and protocols with a view towards ensuring that all patients receive appropriate and proper treatment,” Mbito said in the report.
Sections 36, 38, and 42 of the Public Health Act (Cap 242) on the rules of prevention of disease gives the Ministry of Health, headed by CS, powers to contain the disease.
The Bill states that through the office of the Director of Medical Services, the Ministry is empowered to require any person owning or having charge of any land or any buildings or dwellings, tents, drugs, foods …. urgently required in connection with an outbreak to hand over the use of any such …”
The surge in the cases last Friday forced President Uhuru Kenyatta to impose a cessation of movement in five counties, namely, Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado and Nakuru.
The measures, the second in a span of one year, restrict movements in and out of the five counties, otherwise known as disease-infected zones, tightened curfew hours and closures of bars and restaurants.
The committee warned the medics against falling into the dangerous assumption that all cases arriving at the hospitals are as a result of Covid 19 infections.
Mbito disclosed that his committee held several meetings with the Ministry of Health, the Council of Governors, Kemsa, medics, and other players in the health sector and got a clearer understanding of the Covid 19 pandemic situation in the country.