BY PROF DR HALIMU SHAURI
Prof Dr. Halimu Shauri Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Pwani University & Consultant Sociologist.
Through an earlier publication on The Coast Newspaper where I appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to use his executive powers to lift the patient confidentiality clause but in this piece I push for the sharing of infected people’s identity information as the way of combating the spread of COVID-19.
I know in medical or professional terms this is possible as doctors and public health officials are mandated professionally to identify the same in protecting the public interest. At times like this common sense should prevail in declaring the identities of a few infected people to save millions of others.
Even democracy works with the feelings of the majority and this does not mean the majority is always right but it is what constitutes the normal.
I am impressed by the health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe’s remarks on TV yesterday (March 22) that: “If we behave normally amidst corona virus in the country, then COVID-19 will behave abnormally”.
Truly, I concur with him and this is the reason why we are following his advice religiously. In fact, Albert Einstein said: “You cannot do things the same way and expect different results…if you do, he continued, …then this is insanity”.
We, Kenyans, cannot behave the way we are behaving and expect COVID-19 controlled environment! We must change and do things differently with regard to this novel respiratory disease.
Further, Mr Kagwe, with due respect to the good work you are doing for Kenya, while this is perfect, we cannot do things the same way and expect different results.
The Social Network Analysis (SNA), where an identified infected person reveals whom they have been into contact with, will not help much in the fight against the spread of corona.
The confidentiality of information around the infected and the securitization of COVID-19 operations, including Nyumba Kumi approach, will not help much but Reverse Social Network Analysis (RSNA) will.
I made the same appeal to the President.
The RSNA methodology simply calls for the Multi-Agency team to reveal the identities of the COVID-19 infected person.
Once this happens, all those who were in contact with this person start identifying themselves either self-quarantine or self-present themselves for screening or testing.
This way you save the government a lot of resources to be spent on tracking as used in SNA is adopting RSNA that is more superior in identifying those who have come into contact with infected persons thus saving resources.
A good example of how effective and efficient RSNA is can be drawn with the recent happenings in Kilifi County.
Look at the number of people who interacted with the deputy governor before he came under lock and key are either under quarantine, screened or tested.
The numbers of those who have become aware of the risk of not complying with your directives Mr Kagwe have increased spontaneously.
I have been observing and reading comments on social media platforms involving Kilifi residents and can tell you the impact on prevention presented by the disclosure on the DG’s case is massive.
Many are on ‘panic’ mode than before and in fact I was amazed in the morning when my farmhand called asking about what to do now that corona is indeed here and real. Additionally, what we should know as Kenyans is that corona is very bad.
Worse for Africa, because we are more social than the west and therefore, the COVID-19 antidote of keeping social distance should be taken very seriously.
But more precisely, those that should be put under the spotlight are leaders and if I were to be consulted on shutdown, I would suggest a lockdown of politicians.
Have you had an opportunity to observe or listen to politicians? The MCAs, the MPs, the Senators, the Governor’s and their working routines!
My experience with those I have seen and personally interacted with is scary, especially during this time of corona threat.
Their morning begins with a breakfast meeting, mostly in their residential areas, where constituents congregate for advice or help, then from around ten a series of meetings, say three to four public meetings.
On the way to meetings and back home they are celebrities and attract many people on their way, who they interact with them differently.
During the functions, they use same microphones with the Master of Ceremony and everybody who speaks. All these events do not respect social distance or precautionary measures for scourge.