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Lack of ambulance services threaten Covid-19 response in counties

Thursday July 16 2020
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An ambulance. The government has withdrawn emergency services in the counties over lack of fund. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DERRICK LUVEGA

County governments are facing challenges on how handle emergency operations relating to Covid-19 cases after the Ministry of Health withdrew ambulance services because of lack of funds.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya on Wednesday said the latest move by the national government will negatively impact Covid-19 response in the counties.

He said health workers were using ambulance services to move suspected Covid-19 patients to hospitals.

"This is a huge setback and may negate some of the efforts that counties are putting in," Mr Oparanya said when he addressed journalists outside the Vihiga County headquarters in Mbale town.

He said that the ambulance services were being funded by the World Bank through the Ministry of Health to boost operations in areas that had been hit hard by the pandemic.

"Unfortunately, the support came to an end and the ambulances were withdrawn," said Mr Oparanya said.

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The Kakamega County boss, however, said all the 47 counties continue to finance the emergency operations committees to ensure Covid-19 response activities are well coordinated from the community to the county level.

"Counties have also invested in management of case finding and contact tracing at the sub-county and community level so as to achieve and report 100 per cent contact tracing rate," said Mr Oparanya, who was accompanied by his Vihiga counterpart Dr Wilber Ottichilo.

Mr Oparanya called on the national government to help counties set up their own testing centres to reduce the turnaround time.

He noted that counties in Western are currently relying on Kisumu and Eldoret for testing of suspected cases, thus delaying release of results.

"Currently, the turnaround for results is increasingly being delayed from the initial 24 hours to seven days. This is not good enough in this war," said Mr Oparanya.

The CoG boss, however, said counties continue to provide public health education to communities on Covid-19 prevention.

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