The Ministry of Health in partnership with Amref Health Africa have injected Sh47.7 million worth of equipment aimed at boosting the reliable supply, storage, and distribution of medical oxygen at several health facilities across Taita Taveta County.
The donation, tapped from the Global Fund, is a strategic milestone in ensuring the realisation of Universal Healthcare Care (UHC) particularly in building capacity, both human resources and infrastructure, at the grassroots health facilities to reach the vulnerable and poverty-stricken masses.
The assortment of equipment includes 250 oxygen cylinders, oxygen splitters, piping and manifold installations as well as multi-parameter advanced patient monitors and oxygen supply kits, which are set to be fully operational by the end of this year.
Leading the donation event AMREF Health Africa’s lead representative Dr Angela Ndaga insisted on the need to adequately equip health facilities at the grassroots through partnerships with the two tiers of government, non-governmental entities, and private stakeholders.
“There is a need to pull together for all of us: government, NGOs, private players, and well-wishers; in ensuring our grassroots health facilities are adequately equipped if the country is to attain the ambitious UHC goals,” said Ndaga.
She further added that the donation was informed by the data and experiences drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the soft belly of the healthcare systems around the country.
“COVID-19 was a big lesson for us as we realized how unprepared our healthcare systems are in dealing with mass production and supply of medical oxygen to patients,” said Ndaga.
The range of equipment, according to Philomena Kirote, County Chief Officer of Health Services, will be distributed among Taveta and Wesu Sub-County Hospitals, and Wundanyi, Maungu, and Rekeke health centers.
The Chief Officer said that the mapped-out facilities were a deliberate resolution to ensure that the equipment has the greatest impact by reaching almost every corner of the County and keeping up with the UHC agenda.
“If you look at the distribution of the equipment, at least one facility in each of our four sub-counties has been reached and we will keep turning the UHC wheel until everyone, including the vulnerable and marginalised, can easily access affordable and quality healthcare services,” said Kirote.
Taita Taveta County’s healthcare system, like many others in the country, was pushed to the limits in keeping up with the in-demand supply of medical oxygen at the peak of COVID-19 infections.
To mitigate the shortage, the national and county government undertook the construction of a bulk oxygen plant at Moi County Referral Hospital-Voi to end the reliance of the life-saving commodity from Mombasa depot.
By Arnold Linga Masila