Kenyans have been found to keep off health facilities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a result of the fear of coming in contact with suspected coronavirus patients, contaminated surfaces, and healthcare workers in isolation wards.
This was reported by health workers following checks across the country, which revealed that both inpatient and outpatient traffic has reduced by more than half in some counties, amid fears over the health conditions of patients with chronic diseases like cancer, asthma, and diabetes.
Many people could be silently suffering at home, Health County Executive Kariuki Gichuki said, adding that some may be engaging in self-medication. This could be a great risk to the individual and the country at large.
“Erroneous prescription of medicines bought over the counter can be devastating especially to those who are not sure of the kind of disease they are treating,” Gichuki said.
In Homa Bay, where one case of coronavirus was reported, reports show that fewer patients are seeking medical services at the Teaching and Referral Hospital. The number of outpatients received daily has decreased to 250 per day to 100 since the emergent of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the hospital director Geoffrey Otomu, inpatient and outpatient traffic have reduced by 40 percent in the last two months. In Mandera, it was discovered that people have not been going to hospitals as it used to be, as outpatient bay, lab, and registration desk were witnessed before the coronavirus cases were reported in the border county.
“Our isolation centre is at the main hospital and this to some extent has made some patients keep off the facility,” said Hassan Abdalla, Medical Superintend at Mandera County Referral Hospital. Even at the Meru Referral Hospital, the situation is no different as the experienced similar issue, where outpatient numbers have declined from an average of 500 patients to about 100 in a day.
Gradually, the rate at which people are staying clear from medical centres is quite alarming, as many continue to prefer staying at home rather than reporting to medical or healthcare centres for treatment. Through patients’ conversations with journalists, it was discovered that many were afraid of contracting the virus.
Njuguna Mwangi, a 70-year-old patient with kidney complication who was undergoing dialysis at least twice a week at Kenol Hospital in Muranga, said he had reduced his sessions to one.
If people continue staying at home without complaining about their health complications to medical experts, the patients, as well as the country, may encounter more risk, especially at a critical time of coronavirus. Imagine when a coronavirus patient refuses to be isolated, going about with normal lives, this would complicate the fight against the pandemic.
By Ahmed Iyanda.