Amoth: managing Covid-19 patients in ICU costs Sh71K a day
If you are an uninsured Covid-19 patient but end up in the intensive care unit, you are likely to pay Sh71,000 per day.
Kenyan insurers agreed to cover coronavirus patients after consulting their regulator.
Acting Health Director-General Patrick Amoth Friday said the daily treatment of an asymptomatic patient costs an average of Sh21,000 and Sh21,400 for one with mild symptoms.
Those with severe Covid-19 and require supplemental oxygen fork out Sh51,000 while critically ill patients who need ICU or ventilators pay an average of Sh71,000.
Some 90 per cent of Kenyan coronavirus cases are asymptomatic. That means most pay an average of Sh21,300 for treatment a day.
One can only be declared virus-free after two weeks. It, therefore, means that treatment for Covid-19 in the 14 days costs Sh298,000 to Sh300,000.
Patients are usually discharged when two or three consecutive tests turn negative.
It takes up to five tests in some patients to get definitive results.
According to a study commissioned by People’s Health Movement Kenya, some 51 per cent of Kenyans lack medical insurance while the remaining have some sort of cover.
“The bill varies, depending on the virus load, related ailments, age and other factors, though the figures given are on the minimum side,” Dr Amoth said during the daily Covid-19 briefing in Kilifi on Friday.
However, he added that because of the high cost of treatment and with most patients being asymptomatic, the government has been encouraging self-quarantine.
“We came up with home-based care protocol because the responsibility of Covid-19 management lies with the individual,” he said. “Let us observe the measures to avoid the hospitalisation route.”
Dr Amoth said most of the cost goes to the protective gear used by medical staff.
A full personal protective equipment kit goes for Sh10,000 and is used for a single session per patient.
This means a doctor discards the gear every time he or she leaves a patient after a visit.
Due to the special care required, a doctor could visit the patient even three times a day.
The bill is also escalated by bed charges, with the Kenyatta National Hospital demanding Sh4,000 per night. Food, medicine and other services also increase the cost.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe told Kenyans to observe the guidelines given by the government, adding that the opening of the country should not be taken to mean the coronavirus curve has been flattened.
“We opened the country because our economy had been badly hit. Because the country is open, we should expect more cases. We should all play a significant role in stopping the spread of the virus. Protection is in your hands,” he said.