Fri. Jun 5th, 2020

COVID-19 MITIGATION: How Prepared are you and your County?

Heath officers preparing themselves with PPE. Image : (Courtesy)l

Episode 18

BY PROF DR HALIMU SHAURI

(Dean; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Pwani University)

Going by the recent update on COVID-19 infections, Kenya has hit over two hundred cases.

We have also lost our colleagues, Christians and a Muslim. We have seen also the way bodies are disposed not buried and the law is clear in 24 hours and up to 15 family members in attendance, no more!

We have witnessed the faulting of cultural practices with regard to burial rites, Christians as witnessed in many COVID-19 funerals, traditional, as witnessed in Siaya County and Islamic as witnessed in Lang’ata Cemetery.

In fact, the Muslim team against COVID-19 announced the suspension of the washing of the deceased body as a measure to combat the spread of Corona virus. If you are a Muslim, you what this means!

NASCENT REALITY

All these events are speaking to us about something. What is the something? I hear you asking with fear. Yes, whether we are prepared to face this nascent reality or not, individually and as counties or nations.

Many people have written and said that this is a new diseases and no one knows how to deal with it. I would like to add my voice in this discourse and say:

Health officers in the medical laboratory. Image (Courtesy)

“Where there is no way, the no way, becomes the way”

This is to mean, in the absence of a clear methodology, it’s an opportunity for humanity to come up with new methods.

It means the existing paradigms have been challenged. To copy the words of Emmanuel Kuhn, we need a paradigm shift. We need to think and come up with solutions. We can’t sit back and watch while people are dying doing nothing.

Humanity has brains and the power to do something, unlike lower animals. Now the question is what have you been doing or your County been doing to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 infections?

PERSONAL LEVEL

At the personal level it’s easy though difficult because of mindset change. Washing hands, personal hygiene, self-quarantine, staying at home, isolation and social distancing have not been part of our normal but they are now our new normal.

If you don’t adhere to this new norm of simple things, then you are doing nothing to help control the spread of COVID-19.

Many people have a negative mindset that of I have not seen, or heard  a COVID-19 patient that I know or no harm has happened to me or my family or friends, then all is alright.

A health officer taking temperature of a foreigner. Image: (Courtesy)

Alas! Stop there, those infected and affected are people like you. Don’t wait and cry when it’s too late you can do something now? Please do it, so long as it will help the fight.

Allow me now to ask a hard question to our governors and their CECs, including mine because health is a devolved function.

What have you done in improving health care eight (8) years into office and with billions in allocation?

I know you don’t have answers because either you did not have capacity to lead with your executive or your priorities were lopsided, as articulated in my earlier article in this series. COVID-19 requires a robust health care system.

A robust health care does not fall, like rain from the sky! It’s a product of good leadership and governance. What does good leadership and governance entail? I know you are asking.

GOOD LEADERSHIP

Good leadership and governance entails, right identification of development priorities, proper planning and resource allocation or budgeting, coordination of implementation, monitoring and evaluation and proper audit system to ensure all goes according to plan and prudence in the use of resources.

It further means giving your voters capacity to help themselves, not short term populist and unsustainable philanthropic projects.

I am sorry to say that our governors failed in this test, including my own! This glaring failure, especially in our health care system, the engine of development, is about to cost us badly as a nation.

You are an alarmist professor, I hear you wanting to defend your weak and non-visionary governor!

Evidence is out there. Taking the current COVID-19 crisis as a practical example or case, do your own assessment of the preparedness of your county satisfactory?

I say, your own, so that you can see for yourself and absolve me from blame.

COVID-19 for instance requires attention of medical staff, do you have enough? What is the doctor or nurse ratio per 100,000 people? Does your County have an Intensive Care Unit? How many? Are they accessible and well equipped and staffed? How many ventilators does your county have? Are they functional?

I can see your answers, are like mine in my county with lots of nos!

The question now that is confusing is what were the governor’s and their CECs doing for all these 8 years of flowing billions, our hard earned monies in taxation.

I wish the Chief Governor, aka, Chair of the Council of Governors or my own Governor or CECs in charge of planning will respond.

We trusted them with our health and have failed us big time! Surely, we gave you our trust and our money to work for us, look where you have delivered us in the face of COVID-19!

STATUS QUO

Finally, I want to reiterate that it’s time for all of us, politicians and voters, to reflect on whether we are comfortable with the status quo going forward.

COVID-19 is here, no one is happy about it, but has opened up floodgates of knowledge about our deficiencies as a nation and counties.

Almost all our politicians are in hiding, if you hear them they are donating food. Tell them we have COVID-19 not famine, and hence we need a functioning health care system fast, even if a make shift one!

The vulnerabilities and uncertainties posed by corona is a hard price, as Kenyans, we are paying out of our own lack of vision during the electioneering process. Indeed:

“What we thought were our best choices of leaders have delivered us to the open and tiny but lethal jaws of COVID-19 with their poor leadership and governance practices…we are literary on our own!”

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