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UN workers set for Sh1bn Covid-19 treatment facility in Nairobi

Tuesday July 21 2020
UN1

UNON Director-General Zainab Hawa Bangura, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and Nairobi Hospital chair Irungu Ndirangu during the groundbreaking for the UN Covid-19 treatment facility at The Old Nursing School on July 20, 2020. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ELIZABETH MERAB

The United Nations has entered a strategic partnership with the Nairobi Hospital to manage diplomatic personnel and their dependents with suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The partnership will see the construction of a Sh1.1 billion facility within eight weeks. It will have a 150 beds with 25 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 50 in the High Dependency Unit (HDU).

The deal between the private hospital and the United Nations Office, Nairobi (UNON) says the facility will also include an operating theater, laboratory, pharmacy as well as radiology diagnostics.

The semi-autonomous hospital will serve over 20,000 UN staff based in Kenya and Africa and their families and will also be open to locals.

“With this partnership, the United Nations is helping to bolster the capacity of the Kenyan health care system to combat the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Zainab Hawa Bangura, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON).

“Through the provision of additional hospital beds and specialist equipment, this initiative will enable Kenya to deal more safely and effectively with this pandemic, as well as possible future pandemics.”

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KENYA’S RESPONSIBILITY

According to Ms Bangura, the idea to build the hospital was an initiative of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who asked for support in a phone conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 27.

President Kenyatta described his request as “Kenya’s duty to the United Nations and the region”.

“President Kenyatta said he made this request to the secretary-general because he knew that Kenya has acted as a centre for medical treatment for the entire region in relation to several medical emergencies,” Ms Bangura said at the ground-breaking on Monday.

The facility, Ms Bangura added, will be Kenyan built and run, using locally sourced contractors, labour, and materials.

Apart from extending financial resources, the UN will also provide specialised equipment that is in short supply globally and may not be easily available in Kenya.

“This partnership has in effect created two hospitals in one. The main hospital across the road and the Covid-19 treatment facility. This treatment facility compliments the Silver Springs isolation centre,” said Dr Allan Pamba, Chief Executive Officer of the Nairobi Hospital.

The UN has been placing bids in search of facilities that can have a 100-bed capacity and are capable of caring for Covid-19 patients only. In March, a request similar to the Nairobi Hospital one was done for New York.

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