The Council of Governors (COG) has raised concern over an acute shortage of anesthetists in medical facilities in the country, compromising the quality of health services.
In a speech read by Nyeri Health Executive Rachel Kamua, the COG’s Chair of the Health Committee Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti, said there are 788 anesthetists in Kenya. The ratio of physician anesthesiologists stands at 0.44 per 100,000 population, against the internationally recommended standard of four per 100,000.
“In Kenya we face a huge gap in the number of physician anesthesia providers. This is one of the reasons non-physician anesthesia providers are vital to bridge the gap. We still have a long way to go in terms of numbers,” said Mr Kuti.
Dr Kuti’s address was read in Nyeri on Friday morning during the launch of the a document that provides their scope of practice for the Kenya Registered Nurse Anesthetists (KRNA).
He lauded the KRNA for launching the document, describing it as a sound guideline to the practice of nurse anesthetists in Kenya.
Center for Public Health and Development (CPHD), a non governmental organisation, guided the process that saw the various stakeholders including training institutions, practicing KRNAs, and Government representatives to develop the scope of practice that was validated in November 2018.
CPHD Executive Director Dr Steve Adudans explained the program was set up to address the challenge of inadequate number of anesthetists compared to the recommended international standards.
Dr Adudans said: “In counties such as Taita Taveta patients have had to be rushed to Tanzania just to get surgery while Mandera county whose surface area is larger than the the size of Denmark has only two serving anesthetists.
Director of Nursing Services in the ministry of Health Mary Nandili, on her part, said the document will help in holding the nurse anesthetist accountable to patients.
“My office commits to pushing for the development and distribution of a scheme of service to further support the entrenchment of this cadre in the health sector by the end of 2019,” she stated.
Ms Edna Tallam, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nursing Council of Kenya, stated that this scope of practice came at a critical time when there is need to define who the nursing fraternity are. She thanked Dr. Mark Newton, Founder of the KRNA program, Dr. Stephen Adudans of CPHD and the KRNA fraternity for pushing forward the development of this document.
KRNA national chairman Samson Miriti said the organisation, which was established five years ago, now has more than 200 members in 39 counties. He lamented that county governments are yet to embrace the nurse anesthetists.
“We hope this will change as we now have definition of roles and responsibilities that will help counties create a job description to use in recruitment process,” said Mr Miriti.
Nurse anesthetists, he said, have also been locked out from benefiting from allowances like the call allowance despite a recommendation given by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) dated September 14, 2015.
“This has not been effected in every county. We are asking for fair compensation for the specialised services we provide,” stated Mr Miriti.