Health ministry summoned over mystery of missing 30 county ventilators


Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is on the spot over the whereabouts of 30 ventilators it purchased and claimed to have distributed to counties.

Governors told the Senate they were yet to see the machines that are vital in saving lives in the wake of the Covid-19, a viral disease that targets the lungs.

The Senate is now demanding that the ministry tables a report on the whereabouts of the additional ventilators purchased at the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The MoH has seven days to provide a report …on the whereabouts of the 30 ventilators it is said to have purchased and distributed to counties,” said the Committee chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja.

This means that the ministry has until Tuesday report before the seven-member Senate committee.

Kenya has 297 ventilators, with only 90 available at public health centres, highlighting the need for the additional machines.

“According to the Council of Governors, none of these additional ventilators had been distributed to counties by the time of writing of this report,” said Mr Sakaja.

Ventilators are machines that help people breathe when they cannot on their own. They are vital to Covid-19 patients who are prone to complications like pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Shortage of ventilators, inadequate ICU facilities and oxygen point to the country’s ill preparedness to face the pandemic amid the growing infections.

This threatens the country’s ability to care for and manage Covid-19 patients who may develop mild to moderate symptoms.

The Committee, which held most of its meetings virtually, was set up to oversight actions and measures taken by the national and county governments in addressing the spread of Covid—19.

Among other things, it is mandated to address measures to ensure continuous supply of food and other essential commodities at affordable prices, protection of residential and commercial tenants as well as ensure safety of healthcare and other frontline workers.