Kenya: Oxygen Donation Eases Woes for Coast General Hospital

25 November 2020

Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital has received a major boost after a company donated 10,000 litres of liquid oxygen for coronavirus patients, momentarily easing tribulations facing Mombasa county health department.

Mombasa Cement Limited donated the liquid oxygen for treatment of coronavirus patients barely a month after the facility's chief administrator, Dr Iqbal Khandwalla, pleaded with well-wishers to aid CGTRH, the region's largest hospital, with oxygen supply.

Every three days, the hospital uses 4,000 litres of oxygen costing Sh600,000.

Dr Khandwalla said the disease has a huge demand for oxygen. "In this era of Covid-19, there is an urgent need for support of oxygen supply. The disease has a huge demand for oxygen and we have requested assistance. This is not a profit-making institution; it's a government referral hospital where all the charges are highly subsidised," said Dr Khandwalla on November 10.

This week, his prayers were answered when the cement manufacturing company donated the oxygen to the facility. Covid-19 patients require high volumes of oxygen for treatment.

The proprietor of the company, renowned Mombasa philanthropist Hasnuk Patel, has been instrumental in donating equipment to the hospital.

"The oxygen will supplement the county reserves needed for critical care of coronavirus patients at the referral facility," said health county executive Ms Hazel Koitaba, who praised the company for the donation and their continued support for health programmes in the devolved unit.

The machine for testing Covid-19 in Mombasa, which broke down almost a week ago, is also yet to be repaired as the Governor Hassan Joho-led government remains mum over the matter.

The county is now relying on labs at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in Kilifi and Nairobi to test samples for the virus.

The situation is now hampering the county's fight against the pandemic, with health workers demanding that the machine be repaired.

Clinical officers

This comes amidst a strike by nurses, clinical officers and other cadres of health workers in the county.

The strike has now entered its second week. It is only doctors who are working in public hospitals in the entire county.

On Friday, the county secretary and the health department met the striking frontline workers to address their challenges but they did not agree on a return-to-work formula.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses Mombasa Branch Secretary Peter Maroko said they will only return to work if the county addresses their demands.

"Infections among health workers will skyrocket. The malfunction is heavily affecting coronavirus management in the entire county," said Mr Maroko.

He said the breakdown of the machine is adversely affecting testing, isolation and treatment of Covid-19 patients.

"It is hampering the process of testing health workers, which was initiated to help in isolating those who had contracted the disease and treat them so that we don't lose our colleagues," said Mr Maroko.

He said the county can only carry out less than 50 tests and this has to be done in Kilifi.

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