With rising cases of Covid-19 and health facilities getting overwhelmed, the County Government of Nakuru has rolled out a training programme for its medical personnel on home-based care and support services for suspected patients.
The first batch of 30 nurses, clinical officers and public health officers has been trained to manage Covid-19 patients who present with mild symptoms on public health measures related to the management of their contacts.
The Public Health Chief Officer, Samuel King’ori said the devolved unit was working jointly with the Ministry of Health’s Disease Surveillance and Response Unit in developing home-based and community care, in accordance with World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols.
“Epidemiologists and virologists from both the County and national government are training our health workers to manage the pandemic without overstretching public health facilities.
Nakuru County currently has 200 beds in five County Covid-19 isolation facilities. Even as we work to meet the 300 beds capacity directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta before the end of June, we feel home-based care is preferable to families, especially those from low-income areas as it is more cost-effective compared to managing disease in hospital,” noted Mr. King’ori
The Public Health Chief Officer said the devolved unit was targeting to have over 1,000 functional isolation beds within the next three months for COVID 19 patients.
Under the new arrangement, King’ori said others who may be retained in hospitals are those with underlying illnesses like chronic cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer.
Dr. Philip Muthoka from the Ministry of Health’s Disease Surveillance and Response Unit expressed concern that designated national Covid-19 hospitals across the country are overflowing with both ailing and asymptomatic patients.
He commended Nakuru County for putting in place effective surveillance, testing and management measures against coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Muthoka said the health workers had been equipped with skills to provide social and psychological support, nutritional support and basic nursing care to COVID -19 patients, which are critical success factors in the management of the disease.
“Nakuru County has seen a slow rate of infection as compared to other areas with smaller urban centres. The measures to contain the spread of COVID 19 should not be viewed as punitive. Nobody is safe until we are all safe. It is for Kenyans’ own good,” Dr. Muthoka observed.
According to the World Health Organization, over 80 percent of cases in health facilities are asymptomatic and can be managed at home with minimal risk of infection.
WHO has developed interim guidance for safe home care for such patients and their contacts. The document was adapted from the guidance on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection that was published in June 2018.
It has been updated with the latest information and is intended to guide public health and infection prevention and control (IPC) professionals, health care managers and health care workers (HCWs) when addressing issues related to home care for suspected Covid-19 patients displaying mild symptoms and when managing their contacts.
Home-based care, according to WHO, can be considered for patients with only mild illness, as long as they can be followed up and cared for by family members.
In the WHO document, caregivers refer to parents, spouses, and other family members or friends without formal healthcare training, who are expected to give home-based care.
Meanwhile, the Maralal town Assistant Chief, Celina Lemakara and elders of Nyumba Kumi have contributed money and purchased soap and sanitizers which they distributed in Maralal town’s crowded places as they sensitized residents on the importance of washing hands in the fight against Covid-19.
“We are targeting areas such as bus termini, boda boda’s parking areas, health facilities, and chiefs’ offices where many people visit to enable them to wash their hands as they come and leave,” Lemakara said.
Besides preventing the spread of Covid-19 infections, Ms. Lemakara said maintaining a high level of hygiene through handwashing would also reduce other hygiene-related diseases such as cholera.
“I would ask that it becomes a routine for us to continue washing hands even after the Covid-19 pandemic because it is necessary for our health,” she said.
She asked residents to adhere to directives that were issued by the ministry of health against the spread of Covid-19 without necessarily being supervised.
The Maralal town Nyumba kumi sub-location Chairman, Gulleid Mohammed asked well-off people in the town to help the poor from contracting Covid-19.
By KNA TEAM