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By Faith Nyasuguta 

Despite having issued numbers of Covid-19 fatalities for over a year now, the Kenyan government has admitted that its daily statistics on Covid-19 deaths may be inaccurate. This follows the small number of pathologists in the nation.

In a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said the ministry can only confirm deaths that occur in hospitals and autopsies of a few that happen within the society.

“People are dying in numbers but we cannot give evidence that the community death occurs as a result of Covid-19 complications when issues of pathology are absent at counties,” she said.

Mochache further confirmed that only four officers who do autopsies on Covid-19 deaths are in the Ministry of Health headquarters.

“I agree with your observations on the recording of deaths since we are not able to capture all community deaths,” she told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

She went ahead to confirm that Kenya is already facing wave four of Covid-19 as statistics continue to rise.

“There is absolutely no doubt that we are in the fourth wave. Counties have not invested in autopsy and you cannot ascertain deaths that occur within communities,” Mochache said in response to legislators’ concerns on the accuracy on Covid numbers.

Currently, the health ministry is working with counties and the provincial administration to monitor community deaths. “I see the rising number of deaths in my own village,” Mochache said.

Kenya health PS Susan Mochache

In other news, Kenya is presently facing a biting shortage of a significant drug used to treat severe Covid-19. The manufacturer has further warned that the shortage may last for longer.

Since February, Tocilizumab (alias Actemra) has been in short supply when trials confirmed it lowers deaths in patients hospitalized with Covid-19.

In Kenya, pharmacies and hospitals have taken advantage of the worldwide shortage to shoot prices with one facility charging up to Sh200,000 ($2000)  per dose. A patient needs two injections.

Covid-19 burials in Kenya /Courtesy/

The Swiss manufacturer, Roche, announced that the global shortage would linger since inflated infections in the United States have outstripped the drug supply.

“The unfortunate reality is that due to the unprecedented surge in worldwide demand- with US demand spiking to well beyond 400 per cent of pre-Covid levels over the last two weeks alone – we will experience shortages of Actemra/RoActemra globally over the weeks and months ahead,” Roche said in a statement.

“This is due to global manufacturing capacity limits, raw material supply constraints, the complex, labor-intensive process of manufacturing biologics and the dynamically evolving nature of the pandemic.”

The company further added that it will not enforce any patents in poor nations and that it will support generic manufacturers.

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Faith Nyasuguta

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