COVID-19 in Kenya: an update on the fight against the pandemic by Grace Mageka

According to the information released by the Ministry of Health after every 24 hours, shows that the Covid-19 cases in a day are increasing. The Cabinet Secretary (CS) minister emphasizes that, the success of the government in combating covid-19 pandemic, depends on the collaboration and cooperation by all Kenyans. “This disease is here with us. We must invest to fight the virus and take the individual responsibility to save children, parents and friends…. Let’s save each other. “You save me I save you,” it is the slogan the CS minister stresses and assures the public that the Ministry of health shall continue to offer leadership in the fight against Covid-19 in the country.

The country now has 12,227 positive cases pushing the cumulative number to 36,393 total cases (Sep. 14th). [1] The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Health, Senator Mutahi Kagwe since the pandemic cases were reported he has commended the work done by different counties setting up beds in readiness for management of COVID-19 cases, setting up ICU beds for those who may need critical care and some oxygen plants in the main isolation centres. As cases rise the ministry of health is doing everything possible to assist in boosting capacities in all healthcare facilities across the country.

Already the government disbursed Kshs. 5 billion (39,105,032.07€) to assist the Counties in upgrading the level of readiness to contain this pandemic. Beyond this, the Ministry has offered targeted support to help seal identified gaps.

For example, in Embu county the Ministry of Health has already disbursed Kshs. 48.5 million (379,318.81€) for payment of allowances to frontline health workers where cases are high. The Ministry has also distributed an assortment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) besides recruitment of 92 healthcare workers under the Public Service Commission Internship program and another 245 under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program. The Ministry also supported the installation of radiology machine, ICU, renal and theatre equipment, including the Central Sterile Supply Department (CSSD) equipment, all of which are functional in both levels 4 and 5 hospitals under the Managed Equipment Services (MES) project. On 21.08.2020, the Cabinet secretary Ministry of Health Hon. Mutahi Kagwe officially opened the Infectious Disease Unit (IDU) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH).

How local populations are dealing with this situation?

The public is following the guidelines in place to ensure no spread of the virus. The population is reacting differently. The COVID-19 has negatively impacted shocks with direct consequences to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized households who rely on informal employment and businesses to fend for their children. Their ability to finance school related expenditure such as school kits, meals, learning materials has been severely compromised with the pandemic. With the Government adopting remote teaching to support distance learning and online education delivered through radio and television and internet, learners from poor, vulnerable and marginalized households have no access to these mediums of learning further worsening inequality in access and quality of education. There is a need to navigate through these challenges to ensure continued access to provision of quality, equitable and inclusive education during and after the pandemic. Many people have lost their jobs in several sectors. Kenya’s tourism sector has been greatly affected, the tourism in Kenya is a source of foreign exchange and income for the government. This helps reducing dependence on other sectors such as agriculture, which are subject to weather and market conditions that can often be unpredictable. In the past, up to 21% of Kenya’s national income has been derived from tourism.