Travel ban, curfew reduced number of surgeries – Mwangangi

The current pandemic has affected surgical services across the country.

Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi on Saturday said Surgical services data obtained from the National Hospital and Insurance Fund(NHIF) surgical procedures indicate that though ongoing, they have been adversely affected with the advent of .

She said as compared to 5 months before the Pandemic, there were 44,528 major surgeries while 5 months into the pandemic only 32,717 were reported.

Mwangangi said minor surgeries administered within the two periods indicate that there were 16,952 cases during the 5 months pre-Covid which declined to 11,432 cases 5 months during the pandemic.

“The data show that there were 2,756 specialised surgeries prior to Covid as compared to 1,934 cases reported five months later in the period cited,” she said.

The CAS said in response to the Presidential circular of 17th March, 2020, Kenyatta National Hospital scaled-down numbers of patients in clinics and restricted surgeries to emergencies and malignancies only.

She said the travel bans and curfew also contributed a lot to the reduced numbers.

“I want to make it clear that for emergency surgery, no Covid -19 test is required before surgery, however, there is judicious donning by the staff. For elective surgeries, results are required for all pre-operative patients, and if positive, the surgical staff fully don in the required Personal Protective Equipment(PPEs),” Mwangangi said.

She said the Health Ministry is committed to providing surgical care, working closely with the Surgical Society of Kenya and Kenya Society of Anaesthesiologists to establish protocols for safe surgery during this pandemic period.

This she said is in line with President ’s Big 4 Agenda of  Universal Health Coverage(UHC) aiming to ensure that every Kenyan can access quality, readily available surgical care at an affordable cost.

Mwangangi said the guidelines will protect both the patient and the service provider.

“We note that the guidelines for the management of surgical patients during the pandemic revolve around three considerations-to protect both the patient, service provider and the institution. In order to have elective surgery, the patient will be required to take a preoperative covid-19 test, those found to be positive will still be operated on judiciously,” she said.

She added emergency surgical care shall be provided without a covid-19 test.

“Use of telemedicine options for screening outpatient elective patients. Screening of patients who have to come for physical clinic review prior to clinician seeing the patient and appropriate actions taken and appropriately spaced seating arrangements in the waiting room areas are among the recommended guidelines,” Mwangangi said.

 She said going forward hand hygiene facilities must be availed for both the patients and service provider.

“All patients must adhere to current government guidelines on the use of appropriate face masks. The facility/clinic should consider having masks available for patients who may not have a mask of their own and an appropriate mask should be worn by the clinician during the clinic interaction while maintaining prescribed social distancing,” the CAS said.

 Kenya has so far reported 29, 849 cases after 515 more people tested positive.

This was out of  6, 353 samples tested in at least 24 hrs.

This brings the Country’s cumulative numbers of those tested to 387, 670.

Some 672 other patients had been discharged bringing the number of total recoveries to 15,970.

Unfortunately, 7 more patients had succumbed bringing the total number of fatalities to 472.

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