Corona, BBI offer a chance for national unity

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta receives the BBI report from the taskforce vice chair Adams Oloo at Kisii State Lodge on Wednesday. With them is ODM party leader Raila Odinga. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Kenyans are currently going through one of the most difficult periods in the country’s history that needs to be addressed with urgency and sober reflection.

The surge in coronavirus infections and the alarming rise in the death toll, arise at a time the nation faces a test on constitutionalism and division prompted by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Of greatest concern among these critical twin issues is the Covid-19 pandemic taking precedent over the BBI, due to the ravage it is causing on livelihoods and the economy.

Most worrying for citizens in a healthcare system stretched to the limit and reports that the National Hospital Insurance Fund cannot meet the bills of the coronavirus patients.

The matter is compounded by the alarming number of healthcare workers succumbing to the deadly virus. 

The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union has expressed serious concern on the welfare, safety and health of the frontline soldiers in the war against the virus.

The national government must take a fresh look at its approach to contain the pandemic by making the lives and interests of frontline healthcare workers a national priority.

Doctors and nurses are protesting that they are at great risk attending to those who are infected, yet the issues they are seeking to be addressed remain largely unattended.

As these heroes in the war against the virus fall every day, some of them cannot take care of their bills.

Where does that leave the thousands of vulnerable Kenyans, who are at risk of contracting the disease yet they cannot afford the high cost of treatment, let alone one meal a day?

The zeal being applied to champion BBI should be extended to the war against the virus.

The government has to ensure that healthcare workers are protected, have adequate protection and their risk allowance immediately released to motivate them.

The health crisis spun by Covid-19 has become a major political issue. True, this is a global health crisis that has spared no country or race, but every nation has an obligation to its citizens.

A glaring illustration of the pandemic’s impact on politics, economics and society continues to play out in the US, where it was a determining factor in the recent deeply divisive presidential election.

Calling for unity, President-elect Joe Biden has set up a 19-member task force to address the virus that has left over 250,000 dead and 11 million infected, promising “empathy, compassion and concern.”

“Let’s marshall the forces of science and hope in the great battles of our time – climate emergency, healthcare, Covid-19 and the economy,” he said

Common enemy

Here in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta, who congratulated Biden on his victory, chairs the National and County Governments Summit, which has this year mostly dwelt on the pandemic.

As the virus spreads countrywide, hospitals are overwhelmed and county governments cannot perform the health function exacerbated by the pandemic. 

We have a lot to learn from Biden’s words to his countrymen and come together as Kenyans to unite against the common enemy-coronavirus. 

Proponents of BBI should make it a unifying factor for our nation by accommodation the views of all Kenyans before a referendum, particularly those of religious leaders.

Going forward united, let us remember that while the majority may have their way, the minority must have their say. [email protected]

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