Two years after the national government promised to upgrade and rehabilitate the archaic Gilgil Sub-County Mental Hospital, it remains just that – a promise.
Colonial buildings, tens of patients in worn-out uniforms and lack of medication is the order of the day in the institution that is ranked second after Mathari Hospital in Nairobi.
The situation has been worsened by an acute shortage of staff against the rising cases of mental health cases in the country in the last two years.
In 2019, during a visit to the facility, the then CS for Health Sicily Kariuki promised that the national government would take over the facility following a request by the county government.
But according to Gilgil MP Martha Wangari, the situation in the facility had continued to deteriorate after the government failed to keep its promise.
Wangari noted that Mathari Hospital had been upgraded and a new facility brought up unlike its sister-counterpart in Gilgil which had over 30 abandoned patients.
“Two years ago the Ministry of Health promised to take over the running of this facility but this has not happened, meaning more suffering for the patients and the staff,” she said.
Speaking after touring the facility, she however thanked the management for working closely with Community Health Workers (CHW) who were critical in health care.
She however noted that the health workers were not remunerated despite the risk that they put their lives in while serving the community.
“During the Covid-19, the health workers have been exposed to infections and it’s time that the county government chipped in and gave them a monthly stipend,” she said.
On her part, Imelda Achieng who is the CEO of Kenya Parliamentary caucus on SGDs and Business admitted that the Gilgil hospital was in poor condition.
She said that the caucus which advocated for the rehabilitation of Mathare hospital would advocate for a similar project in the Gilgil hospital.
“We have seen an upsurge in cases of mental health due to the economic effects of Covid-19 and its time to upgrade more county hospitals to deal with the patients,” she said.
A community health worker Hellen Ogeto challenged the county government to enlist their services as they played a critical role in health issues.
“Currently we are interacting with communities without protective gear putting our lives and that of our families in danger due to the pandemic,” she said.
This was echoed by Samuel Wambugu who noted that due to their efforts, cases of home deliveries had dropped sharply in Gilgil area.
“We are in a good working relationship with the Gilgil sub-county hospital but we are asking for monthly stipends as part of supporting our families and efforts,” he said.