East Africa’s largest referral hospital, Kenyatta in Kenya, has suspended planned surgeries for patients due to an acute shortage of supplemental oxygen.

The hospital’s boss, Evanson Kamuri, says surgeries will resume once the oxygen supply normalises.

“Some of the critical functions like emergency surgeries, cancer-related operations, obstetrics operations, infectious disease unit Covid-19 facility and critical care facilities are currently on going,” Dr Kamuri said in a statement.

The hospital’s average consumption of supplemental oxygen has sharply risen from 4,000 litres to 8,000 litres per day due to an increase in the number of patients requiring ventilator support and critical care.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe declared an oxygen crisis two weeks ago.

He blamed some powerful individuals, hospitals and other facilities for hoarding oxygen cylinders.

More than 200 patients are in Intensive Care Units in different hospitals across the country – 53 of them are on ventilators and another 253 are receiving supplemental oxygen.