Coronavirus: Senators summon CS Kagwe and emergency team

Sunday, April 5th, 2020 16:11 |
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe before a joint sitting of Health Committee of Senate and National Assembly to give an update on the corona virus in Nairobi, Photo/PD/FILE

A Senate ad hoc committee established to monitor the COVID-19 situation in the country has summoned National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) to appear before them to discuss strategies to mitigate the deadly disease that has ravaged the world.

The seven-member team wants to understand from the inter-ministerial technical committee on government response to the Coronavirus outbreak, their readiness to combat, curb and cushion Kenyans from the deadly virus.
So far, the global death toll arising rom the virus has exceeded 52,500 as the number of infections passes 1 million mark.

The Committee on health and the inter-ministerial technical committee on government response to the Coronavirus outbreak is headed by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

The committee on COVID-19 pandemic is chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja and deputized by nominated Senator Sylvia Kasanga.

In an interview with People Daily, Senator Kasanga said her committee was supposed to meet CS Kagwe's team last Friday but it was pushed to coming week.

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“We want to meet the team led by Kagwe first before we meet the individual ministries. We were supposed to do that on Friday but it did not happen. But the chairman is pushing the CS to see if we can meet them either Wednesday or Thursday," Ms Kasanga said.

Her sentiments were shared by Senator Sakaja who said on April 5 “We shall be meeting National Emergency Response Committee headed by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to answer to some of the concerns being raised by Kenyans,”

CS Kagwe’s team is tasked to coordinate Kenya’s preparedness, prevention and response to the epidemic.

Other members of the committee includes Cabinet Secretaries George Magoha (Education), Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs), James Macharia (Transport), Monica Juma (Defence) and Joe Mucheru (ICT).

Others include chairperson of the Health Committee at the Council of Governors, Interior affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, Waita Nzioka, the Chief of staff at the office of the president and the principal administrative secretary in the office of the president.

And Principal Secretaries in the ministries of Health, National Treasury, Transport, Foreign Affairs and ICT.

The government spokesman and the director of public health serve as joint secretaries.

Senator Sakaja said as part of representation of people, they will also be inviting constitutional and public institutions and the general public to submit their views on the four thematic areas.

“We are also inviting institutions and Kenyans to have their views on various thematic areas to send us their questions and concerns,” he observed.

Meanwhile, People Daily has learnt that the committee has started receiving submission from professionals on how the current situation can be mitigated.

Last week, the clerk of the senate Jeremiah Nyegenye, published an advertisement in the local dailies pursuant to the provisions of Article 118 of the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Senate inviting interested members of the public to submit any representations that they may have arising from or related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee has also invited the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) and Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to shed light on cases of violence by police officers on civilians in the pretext of enforcing the curfew, resulting in 3 deaths and over 50 people nursing injuries.

The Council of Governors (COG), Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) has also been invited to an account of healthcare workers on the frontline of the disease.

“We could like to understand the provision of testing and medical equipment, including adequate ventilators in referral hospitals and in at least one public hospital in each county,” Sakaja told People daily.

For the Ministry of Health, COG, healthcare workers unions, the committee will be inquiring to understand the extent of the spread of COVID-19 may be modest due to shortage of testing kits.

This will include community health, testing, quarantine, isolation centres, ICU facilities and other medical equipment, human resources for health, drugs and supplies, role and engagement of county governments, and mental health.

Last week, Governors raised a number of concerns including the inadequate provision of testing and medical equipment, as well as availability of adequate ventilators in referral hospitals and in at least one public hospital in each county.

The committee will also be having discussions with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Council of Governors (CoG) for easing of legislative and regulatory requirements for doing business and protection of residential and commercial tenant.

For Social, Public Order and Human Rights Issues, the committee will be recommending for provision of a financial lifeline, through cash disbursements, to vulnerable families and delivery of clean and safe drinking water to communities at risk.

In addition to, measures put in place for the protection and care of street families during the curfew and issuance of face masks, hand washing points (with water and soap) and hand sanitizers.

On their part, Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and KEPSA will be seeking measures to protect employees from retrenchment and job losses.

The Senator Sakaja-led team was established to oversight actions and measures taken by the national and county governments in addressing the spread and effects of COVID-19 in Kenya.

The Committee is required to table a progress report within seven (7) days, thereafter table a progress report on a weekly basis, and subsequently table its final report within six (6) months.

Other members of the committee include Senators Michael Mbito (TransNzoia), Mithika Linturi (Meru), Okong’o Mogeni (Nyamira) and Mohamed Faki (Mombasa).

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