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Coronavirus pandemic threat to savings

By Alvin Mwangi
Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
It was business as usual at Kondele Estate in Kisumu a few minutes past 7pm on Monday even after the government imposed a dusk to dawn curfew to curb the spread of coronavirus. Police used teargas to disperse them. Photo/PD/VIOLA KOSOME
In summary

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, medical experts are now warning the cost of treating the disease could be out of reach for most Kenyans, if it is not contained.

 Speaking on Monday during the launch of Break the Chain drive against Covid-19, experts warned that the virus, which has killed more than 37,000 people globally, has the potential of wiping away savings of Kenyans  struggling to even have a medical insurance.

 Spearheaded by doctors under the aegis of Doctors for Healthy Living (DHL), the initiative seeks to provide Kenyans with information on how to curb the spread of the virus.

Bankruptcy

 “We are staring at a very expensive virus which if we will not well manage and prevent it, families of those affected could end up bankrupt,” said Dr Joseph Aluoch.

 According to Dr Aluoch, an expert in the treatment of respiratory disease, the estimated cost stands at Sh2.5 million, which includes doctors’ fees, hospital stays, testing and the cost of medication all of which can vary depending on whether the person has health insurance.

  “Medical costs are already a common concern here in Kenya particularly for people who don’t have the medical insurance.

This is not something a normal Kenyan can afford. As we speak most Kenyans, especially those in the informal settlements, don’t have the capacity to self-quarantine,” said Aluoch.

Government capability

The medics raised the concern over the capability of the government to provide N95 masks to doctors as they are essential for protecting health care workers and controlling the epidemic.

 Globally, especially in USA, hospitals have been unable to get new supplies as new shipments dwindle.

  Dr Ruth Nduati said the N95 masks are good as they are tighter to fit and thicker than surgical masks. Nduati said the surgical masks only block large particle droplets, while N95 masks filter out 95 per cent of all airborne particles when used correctly.

 “Protecting health workers is essential to managing the pandemic. It’s high time our government thought not only about the patients who have been identified to have the virus but put much emphasis about the people it has deployed on the ground,” she said. 

Impact of scourge

On the impact the scourge will have on maternal health, Dr Nduati urged expectant women to ensure they are safe as they could be posing a risk to their unborn children. 

Last month, a  new-born in China was diagnosed with the virus, just 30 hours after birth.

“We are yet to know exactly if the virus can be spread during birth, but our concern is to parents to be keen as it is possible that a baby can pick the virus by inhaling virus droplets that will come from the mother after coughing,” said Nduati.

  Further, the experts urged Kenyans to follow the rolled-out guidelines by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19.

 Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned of severe action against individuals violating Ministry of Health guidelines on coronavirus prevention. 

“ This is not the time for us not to  follow the instructions to the letter. This is not the time for us to say haki yangu,” said Dr Robert Mathenge.

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