Lamu County will need to up its medical supplies budget from Sh126 million to Sh300 million annually, to solve persistent medicine shortage in county health institutions.
Speaking during the review of the 2023-2027 County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP III), County Medical Services Chief Officer, Dr. Victor Tolle, revealed that the County’s health sector was still operating below budget, despite huge investments being made towards achieving Universal Healthcare Coverage in the County.
The former County Administration under Fahim Twaha, implemented the NHIF Universal Health Care (UHC) coverage for 20,000 households, which has faced criticism for not being properly implemented due to lack of adequate medicine in the county hospitals’ pharmacies.
Patients are sometimes forced to buy medicine from private pharmacies, despite there being a county pharmacy that should be stocked with drugs at all times.
“There are also challenges with regards to the law that binds county governments to only purchase, medical supplies from KEMSA, that sometimes dictate the amount of medical supplies we can have due to a backlog from other counties, needing just as much medicine if not more to cater for their residents,” the County Medical Services Chief Officer added.
He further noted that apart from medical supplies being a key challenge that the Health Department faces, shortage of staff was also a major concern, adding some dispensaries had only one nurse or clinical officer to provide services.
“You often find one medical personnel in satellite stations such as Manda, Kashmir, Pandanguo, Kiangwe and Shanga Ishakai and whenever they take leave their duty medical facilities stay closed sometimes for as long as 45 days, which is close to two months,” Dr. Tolle said.
His sentiments were by Director for Medical Services Dr. Abubakar Baasba, who stated that despite the challenges experienced in ensuring that UHC is successful, positive strides have been made to improve facilities within the county.
“Currently, Lamu County has built an Outpatient Department block in Mpeketoni, as well as a Rehabilitation Unit at Lamu County Hospital,” Dr. Baasaba stated.
He further said strides have been made to build an ICU ward facility that should be ready by the close of the current financial year.
“So far we have trained the nurses and clinicians who will be working within the ICU facility that became essential especially, with the coming of the COVID-19 crisis in which we were exposed, for lack of capacity to handle the global pandemic,” County Public Health Director Mohammed Abubakar said.
Muslims Women Advancement of Rights and Protection (MWARAP) Lamu County Coordinator, Umulkher Ahmed, stated that the County Government needs to prioritize health service delivery and refrain from politicizing public service delivery.
“A lot of the problems afflicting health service delivery in terms of recruitment of personnel, equitable and timely distribution of medical supplies across the county needs to be free from political interference, which sometimes negatively affects the county health department from achieving its objectives,” she stated.
MWARP Programme Officer, James Chappa, called on the County Government to carry out regular impact analysis and review over their health programme initiatives in a bid to determine whether they have made an impact for the county’s residents.
By Amenya Ochieng