Kenya: As Coronavirus Cases Rise, Home-Based Care Will Save Many Lives

opinion

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta recently said he would open up the economy as soon as health facilities in the counties are prepared to handle an influx of Covid-19 cases.

One of the requirements that would inform the decision is that each county should have a minimum of 300 isolation beds. Some counties have managed to attain this quota and even surpassed while others are struggling.

As governors work overtime to realise the National Government guideline, there is a lot public goodwill that will be required when the isolation facilities are fully set-up. The beds should be reserved for serious coronavirus cases, where expert assistance will be needed.

Those with the symptoms will be encouraged to isolate at home until it is absolutely necessary to be hospitalised. There will be a huge reliance on the care that people will receive at home after contracting the virus.

There has been an aggressive push toward home-based care, as cases rise to on average more than 150 a day, means that more and more people will not be treated in hospitals but at home.

It will be essential to know the standardised procedures for home-based care; the kind of items needed must be affordable and accessible. There should also be hotlines for caregivers to contact nurses or doctors.

In home-based care, procedures will mostly be administered by women. This means they should be prepared to handle the load, especially mentally.

To check the spread of the virus President Kenyatta imposed a curfew, and one of the consequences was many households let go domestic workers.

This is because most people lost their jobs or shut down businesses meaning many expenses were reduced including pay for workers, because mothers would be at home.

This is also the case for young women in institutions of higher learning, who are now juggling between domestic chores and online classes.

Statistics also demonstrate, that during this period, women are more likely to lose their jobs compared to men. So when it comes to taking care of patients at the home, chances are the person shouldering the responsibility will be a woman.

While the debate rages on when schools and colleges will be opened, counties are mulling to use these facilities as isolation centres.

But when the educational institutions reopen, it means counties will have to reduce the number of those in quarantine if most centres will be based in schools and colleges.

But if there is a spike in infections, where will people go to?

Many will be treated at home.

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa, executive director, Siasa Place @NerimaW

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