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Baby deaths blamed on shortage of life support machines

About 40 per cent of pre-term and sick infants at the county’s main referral hospital die due to lack of life support machines.

Over 30 babies are delivered every day at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), five to six of whom are either pre-term and or sick; requiring life support. But the equipment available is barely enough.

“A big number is delivered at the hospital every day raising the need for support,” said the hospital’s chairperson, Mr Jackson ole Mpario during the launch of a project to renovate the Neo-natal and Intensive Care units at KNH. “The survival rate of low birth weight babies is currently 30 per cent,” said Mr Mpario.

The unit will, however, be expanded and equipped to cater for the increased demand through a public-private partnerships programme.

The hospital continues to receive support from corporates and individuals to expand the facility and improve services.

It has already received Sh50 million from the Safaricom Foundation through the [email protected] campaign to expand and equip the Neonatal Ward that accommodates over 100 babies at any given time in spite of its capacity of 50.

Currently, the unit has only 15 incubators and four ICU beds, a situation that worsens during crisis such as those caused by strikes in other public hospitals.

“In the current scenario where KNH is receiving babies from other hospitals, we require not less than 24 ICU beds and 40 incubators to meet the increasing demand.”

Other projects at the hospital, which are in the line of expansion and renovation, include the Paediatrics and Burns Unit, Day Care Centre and Cancer Treatment Centre.