County Review Part I: Has Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati Done Anything to Save the Health Sector?

Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati addressing the media on Saturday 11th April, 2020 at the County Headquarters in Bungoma town. The Governor stated that no single coin had been lost in the war against COVID-19. PHOTO CREDIT/Nation

Last week, we promised to do a County review on matters health, business, education, infrastructure as well as  other developmental activities. In our County Review this week, we look at what Bungoma County has done in the health sector and if there’s any improvement that requires to be done.

We start with the health sector in Bongoma County.

Healthcare in Bungoma County has suffered systemic under-investment for years. There is limited infrastructure, inadequate personnel and equipment as well as erratic supply of drugs.

Other biggest challenges as we have all seen in digital publications and the mainstream media include power outrages in the County and County Hospitals, lack of job group promotions for health workers, strike threats, supply of enough drugs to hospitals and overall state of infrastructure.

A keen writer will want to see what the governor has done to curb this these menacing headaches and where he can improve to make the lives of the residents much better than he found them.

We understand that Since being established in 1952 with only 232 beds, Bungoma County Referral Hospital has suffered enough of congestion with the facility struggling to serve close to 900 patients on a daily basis.

In 2019, through the Department of Health and Sanitation, the Governor kicked off massive physical projects as he seeks long term solutions to challenges afflicting the healthcare in the County among them crippling congestion.

To address the challenge of congestion at the main referral facility, a 300-bed capacity mother and child hospital complex is under construction and earmarked for completion next year.

In Sirisia Sub County, our spot check shows that the Governor has started constructing a 100-bed capacity mother and child hospital. Two more hospitals are coming up in Makutano in Tongaren and Sinoko in Webuye East. What is the governor trying to say is, that he is committed to reducing the congestion at medical facilities.

Other medical upgrade may include renovations. However, renovation may not make sense if the Governor does not up his game in equipping the facilities that have come under tough scrutiny from local and international camera lenses.

Governor Wangamati has also renovated and equipped all the nine sub county hospitals. They include Chwele, Bokoli, Kimilili, Cheptais, Bokoli, Naitiri, Bumula and Kapsokwony to limit referrals to specialized facilities.

Also renovated are health centres among them Mechimeru, Malakisi, Kabuchai, Tongaren, Milo, Kimaeti and Bulondo. Others are Nasusi, Karima and Kaptanai dispensaries. Under his watch, a male ward was also constructed at Kimilili Sub County Hospital.

It can be remembered that this website was the first to question the state of the ICU department at the County Referral Hospital at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic was rocking all the panic waves. Our post caused public uproar until the initially-thought missing ICU beds were traced and located.

It would probably the reason why the County Referral Hospital has also acquired state-of-the-art dental unit and a 9-bed ICU. Also equipped with modern gym equipment is the physiotherapy department.

Unlike some governments, Governor Wangamati’s reaction to our post and ensuring that there’s finally an ICU department at the County Hospital does not only mean that he listens to the media commentaries but also takes keeps a keen ear to the cries of the residents. The challenge to the actuarial is now not just to listening but implementing what the residents wish to be done.

On the side of recruitment, medical practitioners who have spoken to this investigative have revealed how them and their colleagues have stuck in one job group for more than three years without any shreds of progress.

However, it’s understandable that being a new Governor, the co-operate, techy CEO may not provide sudden promotions to the hundreds and thousands of medical practioners across the county. Additionally, that does not give him a scapegoat to stay back and sip a cup of coffee in peace as we watch.

A review by this publication shows the Big Man, since coming into office, has tried to address the staff shortage. Wangamati’s regime has hired more than 500 healthcare workers among them medical doctors, clinical officers, nurses, lab technologists, as well as physiotherapists. The Department of Health has also promoted healthcare staff who had stagnated in one job group for more than 15 years.

As far as his so-far-stats may not have accommodated everyone, it could offer shreds of hope to the other medical staff who are looking towards a promotion and employment. They say a journey of 3,000 job promotions start with 500 single upgrade anyway.

Today, as a result of these changes and staff compensation as contained in the CBA, Bungoma County enjoys an enviable reputation and record as among a few counties whose healthcare have not gone on strike since 2017.

In our next post, we will try to see if he has done anything to boost the Daktari Mashinani initiative as well as other improvements in the drug supply and areas he has totally failed but can still improve to make the lives of the Bungoma residents better.

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Simiyu Wakajuaness

Simiyu Wakajuaness is the founder of this news site, a scriptwriter, actor and stage director with ardent passion in media and public relations in this digital world. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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