Adopt shipping containers as ICUs as we cross 9,000 cases

Education Principal Secretary Dr Belio Kipsang (left) at Tambach Sub-County Hospital’s Covid-19 isolation centre on Friday. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • In Murang'a County, the construction of a hospital was completed within 21 days, costing the county government Sh25 million.

The novel coronavirus has exposed the vulnerability and gap in the health systems such as shortage of isolation wards and Intensive Care Unit beds in Kenya's hospitals.

Most governors are sprucing up unused buildings, dilapidated wards and maternity wings as they rush to establish isolation wards. They are refurbishing hospital rooms and equipping maternity and high dependency units with beds to accommodate Covid-19 patients. In Murang'a County, the construction of a hospital was completed within 21 days, costing the county government Sh25 million.

Italy has adopted a new initiative of transforming shipping containers into ICUs. Cura (a latin word which means cure) or connected units for respiratory ailments are designing ICU pods to augment the intensive care capacity of Italy.

Covid-19 spread is spiking in different counties. Some counties will not be able to finish the construction of isolation wards in time, hence need for the governments in both levels to consider an alternative way by restructuring and equipping containers into isolation wards.


The adoption of containers has certain advantages over traditional construction as they are cost effective. They are already in picture-perfect profile, and they only need to be repurposed, which is 30 per cent cheaper than those built in brick. Their structural work is also minimal, reducing the total price further.

Most structures can be assembled within a day as most pieces come pre-cut to fit the prefabricated structures. They are also said to be virtually indestructible, making them fit for harsh condition and can be placed on top of each other. The containers are also portable and can quickly be sent to areas where the virus has overrun hospitals.

They say necessity is the mother of inventions and the government can adopt the containerised hospitals as a solution to the shortage of isolation wards. This will help free up the hospitals and the fear or stigma attached to them, causing people to avoid them.

This is not helping as it will only cause other health issues which are more life threatening than the novel coronavirus itself. It will also cushion the budget allocated to hospitals and extra savings can be deployed in other essential sectors.

Dorothy Pamella, Kisumu