Kariuki demands plan to decongest KNH

Wangui Githugo @Wango_G

New Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki has directed the Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko and the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) chief executive Lily Koros to draft a proposal to decongest the facility.

The two are expected to come up with solutions and present the report in a week’s time as the CS continues to visit health institutions as her first task in the ministry.

At the same time, Kariuki directed that a task force be formed and names presented to the ministry, which she said would work with hospital managements at county level to reduce influx of patients at KNH to maintain its teaching and referral status.

Speaking yesterday for the first time since her appointment and during the “familiarisation trip”, she said that there would further be a review of other facilities in the country to redirect self-referral patients and minor cases.

“I have gone round the hospital and despite it being a great facility, I am disappointed that it deals with primary healthcare instead of being the teaching and referral hospital it’s supposed to be. It is going to take time but decongestion will be achieved in the long run,” she said.

A spot check by the People Daily showed that the most affected sections are orthopaedic, surgery and emergency wards. This concern comes a week after Koros urged county hospitals to assist in decongesting the referral hospital citing an overflow of patients, a shortage of 6,000 medical personnel and overstretched equipment.

She told legislators and journalists that the hospital would offer better services if it only accommodated a number of patients that matched its bed capacity which currently stands at 2,000 but currently hosts over 2,500 patients.

“KNH also has too many self-referrals in the system, which can actually be handled at county hospitals. It brings a threefold of capacity in some departments,” said Kariuki.

This sorry status is a norm in all the major referral hospitals in the country and public facilities with in-patient wings. The top causes for admittance at KNH are head injuries (7.2 per cent), other fractures (5.9 per cent), abdominal appendicitis (4.2 per cent), kidney (3.8 per cent) and cancers (3.4 per cent).

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