The government has ordered 500 beds from two local artisans in order to boost admission capacity in public hospitals, currently under pressure from Covid-19-related cases.
In a statement, the secretary of the President’s Delivery Unit (PDU), Mr Andrew Wakahiu, said after assessing the quality of the beds made by Mr Mungai Gathogo, 26, and Mr Joseph Muhinja, 35, who are based in Githunguri, Kiambu County, the government decided to order the beds from them.
Mr Wakahiu said the two have a month-and-a-half to deliver the beds following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s personal intervention. He said their beds retail at around Sh65,000 each, compared with Sh85,000 for the cheapest available import.
“I have been sent by His Excellency the President to congratulate the young innovators and to confirm the Government’s commitment to support local innovations and products by providing a market for our own under the ‘Buy Kenya Build Kenya policy’,” Mr Wakahiu said.
Mr Wakahiu said the beds will be subjected to Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) protocols on their suitability for hospital use.
The government will also reach out to Numeric Machining Complex, which is tasked with incubating engineering innovations, to help the budding entrepreneurs with equipment and to speed up the production.
The order for the beds comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed counties to have at least a 300-bed isolation centre each in readiness to deal with the surging number of Covid-19 cases.
He gave them a Sh5 billion conditional grant to boost their healthcare capacity by building the necessary infrastructure to enable them to cope with the pandemic.
According to a Ministry of Health report, only 23 counties have met the target ahead of the July 7 deadline. Cumulatively, the counties had a total of 9,300 isolation beds, against the national target of 30,500 units.
The country has only 537 ICU beds and 256 ventilators. The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) has released a report estimating that Kenya urgently needs an additional 1,511 ICU beds and 1,609 ventilators to take care for a possible 1 million Covid-19 cases.