Medical essential services still ongoing despite Covid- 19

CAS Health Dr. Mercy Mwangangi

The government is working closely with the Surgical Society of Kenya and Kenya Society of Anaesthesiologists to establish protocols for safe surgery during this Covid-19 pandemic period.

This is in line with the President’s Big 4 Agenda, Universal Health Coverage(UHC) aimed at ensuring that every Kenyan can access quality, readily available surgical care at an affordable cost.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said that even with Covid-19 being an unwelcome guest and spikes being recorded on a daily basis, there are many other health issues Kenyans continue to face every day and the ministry through its agencies and health facilities will continue working on the same.

Giving an update on the Covid-19 situation Saturday, the CAS noted that the guidelines for the management of surgical patients during the pandemic revolve around three considerations, to protect both the patient, service provider and the institution.

“In order to have an elective surgery, patients will be required to take a preoperative covid-19 test, those found to be positive will still be operated on judiciously and emergency surgical care shall be provided without a covid-19 test,” she said.

Dr. Mwangangi admitted that surgical services data obtained from the National Hospital and Insurance Fund (NHIF) surgical procedures though ongoing have been adversely affected.

“With the advent of Covid-19 as compared to five months before the Pandemic, there were 44,528 major surgeries while 5 months into the pandemic only 32,717 were reported,” she explained.

On minor surgeries administered within the two periods, she noted that there were 16,952 cases during the five months pre-Covid era which declined to 11,432 cases five months into the pandemic.

The data also shows that there were 2,756 specialized surgeries prior to Covid-19 as compared to 1,934 cases reported five months later in the period cited.

In Kenyatta National Hospital, the total number of surgeries done between March to July 2019 were 9,598 done, compared to the same period in 2020 where 6,180 accounting to 64.4 per cent of the number of cases done in 2019 during the same period.

For Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital(MTRH), Comparative total surgeries for the months of November 2018 to July 2019 was 10,448 while for the period between November 2019 to July 2020 totaled 10,375.

“I want to make it clear that for emergency surgery, no Covid -19 test is required before operation, however, there is judicious donning by the staff and that for elective surgeries, Covid-19 results are required for all pre-operative patients, and if positive, the surgical staff fully don in the required Personal Protective Equipment(PPEs)”, the CAS said.

On Covid-19 statistics, Dr. Mwangangi said today some 515 new cases raising the Country’s total caseload to 29, 849.

The new cases were drawn from 6,353 people whose samples were tested in the last 24 hours and this brings the country’s cumulative numbers of those tested to 387,670.

Dr. Mwangangi noted that 672 patients have recovered from the disease bringing the total number of recoveries to 15,970 so far.  65 of them were from various facilities and 607 from home-based care programme. On a sad note, the country has lost seven more patients today bringing our fatalities to 472.

From the new cases, 496 were Kenyans, while 19 were foreigners, 316 were male and 199 were female while the youngest case is an 8 months infant, while the oldest is 92 years old. 

Nairobi still leads in counties with 251 cases, followed by Kitui 41, Kiambu 33, Kericho 23, Kisii 19 Bomet 19, Nakuru 18, Homa Bay 16, Laikipia 12, Murang’a 11, Migori 10, Nyeri 9, Uasin-Gishu 8 Kajiado 8, Mombasa 7, Lamu 5, Narok 4, Busia 4, Embu 3, Machakos 3, Nandi 3, Nyandarua 3, Wajir 3, and Kakamega 2. 

Dr.  Francis Kuria, Head at the Directorate of Public health acknowledged that there was initial decline in attendance in hospitals according to a study done by the Ministry of health through march and June.

He however said that in areas of OPD, first Antenatal care (ANC) and also in the DPT immunization for children and also under 5 being taken to hospital had declined in the month of March to May, but in June there has been improvement in attendance.

“All this shows that they are heeding our call that health care is ongoing in the hospitals and it is safe to go to hospitals,” he said, adding that skilled deliveries and bed occupancy has also increased recently.

On the issue of surgeries, Dr. Kuria urged Kenyans to continue seeking the services at the facilities because they are safe but also urged surgeons to continue offering the services but cautioned on safety.