The decrepit state of Mpeketoni sub county hospital has sparked uproar among local residents, with many complaints over the lack of essential drugs, dilapidated equipment and poor service delivery due to lack of vital facilities like ambulance services.
Residents have lamented that the county ambulance services are virtually non-existent and that they are forced to hire transport to be ferried to hospital.
“What we have been operating as the ambulance services in Mpeketoni is a taxi service with patients being forced to pay as much as Sh15,000 when a patient gets a referral to Makadara in Mombasa,” Anne Gachohi, a Mpeketoni resident interviewed by KNA said.
Highlighting the plight of Mpeketoni sub county district hospital, Lamu Senator Anwar Loitiptip who visited the hospital early this week, said the county government had failed in addressing health issues in Lamu due to spiraling corruption and lethargy among the county staff.
He said despite the health sector receiving the largest chunk of the county budget, it is being run down purposely to serve the interests of a few.
Lamu County Government’s health allocation in 2019/2020 financial year is Sh1.25 billion with Sh120 million being set aside for the county’s Universal Health Care coverage under National Health Insurance Fund initiative that caters for 20,000 households.
The Lamu Senator also said that patients are being forced to buy their own utilities such as syringes, medicine and even basins due to lack of supplies in the hospital.
“There are no beds, no beddings, the hospital is understaffed and some have not been paid for as long as five months,” Anwar stated, adding that the state of the hospital toilets is an eyesore as they have not been washed for weeks due to lack of a detergent.
The legislator further revealed that the situation at the sub county hospital is so bad that two people admitted recently after snakebite are likely to die due to lack of anti-venom drug at the facility.
“There is complete neglect of this hospital, with there being no services to write home about,” Paul Kinyanjui a local businessman said.
Sentiments echoed by Samuel Kuria, a local artisan who also had a patient at the hospital who said that the hospital management had failed in its service delivery role.
“Not only is there no medicine but there is a sense of lethargy among the health workers in this hospital, if you look at the toilets and bathrooms,” Ruth Kimani, a hawker who also had a patient at the hospital said.
Health CEC Dr. Anne Gathoni however clarified that the county government was trying its level best to provide health services based on the meagre resource allocation that the county receives every year.
“Out of the amount of money we set aside for health care, Sh700 million goes for salaries, Sh200 million for operations and management while the rest remains for development. Lamu county still has a shortfall in meeting its targets with regard to equitable and proper health care service delivery,” Dr Gathoni said.
She said that the county government is committed to provision of proper healthcare services and urged Lamu residents to be more optimistic.
“There is a lot of good happening within Lamu with regard to healthcare service delivery despite the challenges, as we are among the few counties that have successfully rolled out UHC for all Lamu residents,” the Health CEC said.
Her sentiments come in the wake of a recent visit by Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha to the institution after local leaders pointed an accusing finger at his administration’s lethargy in addressing the health sector woes in the sub county hospital which is also the second largest referral hospital in the county.
“The Twaha administration has failed in its standing to address health sector issues in Mpeketoni despite being elected on a platform of transforming service delivery in the county for the better. What we are experiencing is things are going from bad to worse,” Mkunumbi ward representative Paul Kimani said during a public baraza where the governor was present.
The governor on his part threw the ball squarely at the County Executive in charge of Health Dr. Ann Gathoni and the acting Medical Services Chief Officer Dr. Victor Tolle, stating that he had assigned roles to professionals.
“The CEC and Chief Officer in charge of medical services know their role and the expectations of Lamu residents in terms of what is needed to provide proper health care services,” Twaha said, in a statement that forced him to visit the hospital that acts as the county’s mainland referral hospital.
“Health care service delivery in Lamu and especially in Mpeketoni is a mess, as patients are forced to buy their own medicine and utilities if they want to get treatment,” Solomon Karori, a community health care worker in Mpeketoni said, adding that the issues are further compounded by long queues instigated by a go-slow by workers.
Issues compounding Mpeketoni sub county hospital are but a microcosm of the problems affecting healthcare service delivery in Lamu, with medical services virtually non-existent in Mangai, Mararani, Barsuba, Bodhei and Baragoni areas which have no functional health care services despite there being clinics in the area.
Health facilities within the Boni area are closed, with county government officials stating that the prevailing insecurity is affecting the provision of health care services within the security region.
“There is a budget provision for the clinics in these areas but no medicine and no clinical officer is deployed in the area,” Muslims for Human Rights Coordinator Abdulsalaam Ibrahim said, adding that health care is a sore spot that projects the current county administration’s shortcomings.
On his part, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said that the national government is ready to station security agents next to health facilities as they have done with the Boni schools.
By Amenya Ochieng