Since Kenya announced the first positive case of Covid-19 on the 13th of March, the lives of healthcare workers in Kenya has changed dramatically. Healthcare workers are unconsciously exposed to patients with viruses daily. This daily exposure inevitably predisposes them to developing high viral loads. The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers estimated that 3 out of 10 healthcare workers in Kenya have not been provided with protective gear. It is not surprising that the 6 healthcare workers who have tested positive to Covid-19, are Clinical Officers.
On Thursday 9th, between 6pm and 7pm, SSK successfully staged their first Webinar. The topic was on Emergent and Urgent surgery during the Covid-19 Pandemic. It was well attended with over 130 participants.
The discussion kicked off with Dr Michael Mwachiro presenting protocols from respected peer-reviewed journals. He showed algorithms that various institutions are using to try and lower and/or delay the epidemic peak of Covid-19. He repeatedly requested the audience to protect the surgical trainee by limiting operations to the most experienced members of the team. The downside of this, is that the most experienced members tended to be over the age of 55 years.
The question and answer session that followed was very lively and informative. As Prof. Russ White, Prof. Ogendo and others commented, it was sad to note that some counties only had one surgeon. Organizing the surgical units into teams, as recommended worldwide during this Covid-19 pandemic, seemed like a dream. If one member of the surgical team unfortunately tests positive, the hospital would have no choice but to shut down its surgical services. This would definitely lead to an unprecedented deterioration of health services in the community.
In the meeting, it was agreed that each county needs to urgently organize its surgical services into teams, and to provide PPEs to its members in good time. It is gratifying to note that the country is finally manufacturing its own PPEs. Our country cannot afford to lose even one healthcare worker to the virus.
The meeting was the first of its kind for our society. It is unfortunate that it took a pandemic to quickly usher in this new era in teaching and communication. We hope that the pandemic dies out soon, as we stand in solidarity with our bruised and battered colleagues all over the world.
Blog Post by: Dr Paul Odula, Consultant Surgeon and anatomist
Additional Resource featured in the talk: COVID-19 preparedness within the surgical, obstetric and anesthetic ecosystem in Sub Saharan Africa- Click below to access full paper