A lot has changed since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and seeking general medical care in Kenya during the pandemic has become a struggle for most people.
If you got ill today, would you gladly walk in to your regular hospital for medical attention? Have you visited the hospital for whatever reason since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic? Are you confident that you would visit a health facility and not be predisposed to the virus? The answer to this is probably no and there are statistics to support the same.
Reducing number of people seeking medical care
Since March 2020, hospitals all over the country have reported a drop in the number of patients seeking medical care or routine health check-ups. The reasons are both positive and negative.
Positive reasons why
Some of the positive reasons for the drop in the number of people visiting the hospitals for care is because of the reduced number of road accidents. This is thanks to the curfews and cessation of movement directives given by the governments. The number of lives lost to road accidents has also dropped significantly.
Adding on, there has been a remarkable drop in diarrhea cases which is a leading cause of child mortality especially those under the age of five. This has been attributed to the increased hygiene measures put in place.
The number of upper respiratory tract infections have also reduced and even though June is a cold month in Kenya, the flu prevalence has reduced and this is attributed to social distancing and wearing of masks which has curbed the spread of airborne communicable diseases.
Negative reasons why
Despite these heart-warming positive outcomes as a result of measures put in place to ward off Coronavirus, there are still people who are ailing that are not seeking medical attention.
The stigma that comes with the virus is making people stay home with their illnesses. They are afraid that they might catch the virus while going for routine check-ups or when taking their infants for vaccination.
I have read about women in online chat groups saying they would not go to the hospital to give birth if and when time comes and the virus is still prevalent. This goes to show that there are people willing to risk their lives and those of their children because of the fear that they may catch the virus in hospital.
How can these women, some first-time mothers, be assured of their safety when they deliver in a hospital? How can they be encouraged to continue going for antenatal and postnatal care in the wake of this pandemic?
How can people suffering from chronic illnesses be told that it is okay to still seek dialysis or chemotherapy without further jeopardizing their health?
How can patients upcountry easily access care in Nairobi despite the measures put in place to restrict movement?
It is a fact that the criminalization and militarization of quarantine facilities has shun away many people from seeking medical attention because of the thought of being tested and put in these facilities where the amenities are deplorable.
A lot needs to be done in attempts to assure Kenyans that their lives are no at stake when they seek medical care during the pandemic. Healthcare providers should be provided with adequate personal protective equipment (PPEs) so as to avoid contracting and transmitting the novel virus.
Here are some quick tips for when seeking medical care during the pandemic
- Keep a safe social distance
Crowding can occur at the hospital and especially in the waiting areas. Ensure that you are 1.5 metres away from the next individual
- Mask up
Always ensure to wear a mask when at the hospital to avoid droplets of saliva or mucus from coming in contact with your nose or mouth. Masks also help prevent the transfer of the virus from our hands to openings like the eyes, nose and mouth which are entry points for Coronavirus.
- Wash your hands and sanitize regularly
Wash your hands as often as possible while at the hospital and always carry a hand sanitizer with you at all times.
- Call ahead
If it is not an emergency, call the hospital and let them know of your situation beforehand. This will help them device a way to help you either remotely or at the hospital while minimizing contact.
You can also get prescriptions from online pharmacies as MyDawa that deliver to your doorstep
The novel Coronavirus has come with it’s fair share of tragedies and turmoil. In as much as it is affecting people and their livelihoods, more lives do not have to be lost because people were afraid of seeking medical care in Kenya during the pandemic.