As daily COVID-19 numbers in Kenya continue to surge, a group of affluent individuals, among them five governors, are now reported to have installed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facilities in their private residences as leading private hospitals remain overwhelmed by growing cases.
According to a local paper, up to five Kenyan governors [two from the Coast region, another two from the Nyanza region and one from upper Eastern Kenya] and a prominent businessman-cum-politician from the Rift Valley region are among those who have installed state-of-the-art ICU facilities at their private homes.
One of the five governors is believed to have had a pre-existing medical condition while the two others head counties which were severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic in April and May, which might explain why they rushed to install the costly machines in their houses.
A worker at the private firm through which the moneyed politicians sourced and installed the ICU facilities while speaking to the paper admitted that they supplied medical gas systems, oxygen cylinders, dry air, ventilators and patient monitors, worth up to over Sh10 million each.
The governors have also made arrangements to have a team of private doctors and nurses on standby in case any of their friends and family contract the disease, which is a prerequisite.
The ICU beds and equipment, the source from the firm which has also supplied the equipment to four counties went on to reveal, were imported from Italy and China.
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga is quoted on record seemingly confirming the possibility of some of his colleagues installing the facilities at their private residences.
According to him, his rich counterparts who can afford the facilities might have installed them as a precautionary measure due to the overstretching in the hospitals.
“It is not a must that one puts up an ICU facility, one can put up a related system because what is most important is oxygen,” noted Rasanga.
These revelations that some county bosses have been installing private ICU facilities in their homes is likely to spark huge uproar across the country given that majority of these leaders have failed to provide sufficient Coronavirus care in their areas of jurisdiction.
Already, the country is staring at a crisis in the treatment of patients with severe cases of COVID-19 due to the shortage of ICU beds in both public and private hospitals.
Credible reports have indicated that all the hospitals in Nairobi, both public and private have run out of hospital beds.
Most of the facilities are being forced to either turn away patients seeking admissions in the ICU facilities or admit them to the High Dependency Units.
Speaking to a local TV station recently, KNH’s head of Infectious Diseases Unit, Dr Loise Ombajo noted that ICU beds at the facility were fully occupied.
Over the last few weeks, governors have been racing against time to ensure that they attain the 300-bed capacity in isolation facilities within their counties.
As at Wednesday, 26 counties had beaten the July 7 deadline issued by President Kenyatta a month ago while the remaining 21 were struggling to meet the target.
Kenya recorded 447 coronavirus cases on Thursday, July 9 2020, raising the caseload thus far to 8,975.