Provision of health services in Kitui County has received a major boost with the launch of a fleet of 10 new ambulances described as "mini surgical theatres".
According to Governor Charity Ngilu, the investment is part of her administration's efforts to revamp the county's health sector and improve efficiency in emergency response.
The new fleet brings to 34 the number of ambulances operated by the county government, but the latest ones are equipped to deal with all sorts of emergencies.
Governor Ngilu on Tuesday said the ambulances, bought at Sh9.5 million each and which are fitted with modern medical emergency equipment, will be deployed across the eight sub-counties to serve remote areas.
Unlike ordinary ambulances which only come with a bed and basic first aid kits, the new fleet is fitted with advanced life support equipment which allows medics to perform a wide range of procedures while transporting a patient to hospital.
"Each of the 10 is fitted with modern life support machines to resuscitate a patient and a delivery pack that doctors can use to operate on an expectant mother while transporting her to the nearest hospital.
"It is literally a mini theatre fitted in each car. The medical equipment alone cost Sh2.5 million to install and is more sophisticated than what we have in most dispensaries and health centres," said Dr Richard Muthoka, the county's chief officer for Health.
The ambulances are made according to technical specifications spelt out in a new Ministry of Health policy for specialised vehicles.
"We are now able to transport a critically sick patient by the highest standards accepted worldwide and this will not be an exclusive service for the rich but the ambulances will be deployed to serve all Kitui residents" said Dr Muthoka.
The health official said the vast distance most emergency cases travel to reach the Kitui Level Five Hospital and the terrain of most roads requires a well-equipped ambulance to avoid unnecessary loss of lives.
Governor Ngilu said the ambulance drivers have been inducted on how to handle emergencies and to help medical staff handling patients in transit.
Mrs Ngilu said she decided to prioritise the health sector because all development relies on the health of the people and that the new ambulances will improve emergency response.
This will further strengthen the Kitui County Health Insurance Cover (K-CHIC) and ensure all residents have access to high quality health services in efforts to liberate them from the disease burden, she said.
Two years ago, Mrs Ngilu employed 35 specialised medical staff comprising 27 doctors, eight pharmacists and 60 nurses as it unveiled an ambitious health insurance scheme which has so far enlisted over 130,000 Kitui County households.