Council of Governors: Counties unprepared for Corona

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya addresses the media on the Covid-19 pandemic at the Delta House offices in Nairobi. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

County governments admitted yesterday they are neither ready nor prepared to tackle the coronavirus pandemic with more cases being reported in the counties.

The damning revelation was laid out in a submission to a Senate ad hoc committee on Covid-19 by the Council of Governors, led by chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.

 They warned that unless the National government addresses various logistical challenges facing the devolved units, they lack the capacity to contain the spread of the deadly respiratory flu.

 It emerged yesterday that besides Nairobi, which is the epicentre of infections with 101 cases of the 216, Mombasa (34) and Kilifi (10), close to half of the 47 counties have confirmed cases.  

In a breakdown of the distribution by Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, there is a significant spike in numbers in the counties with Kiambu having seven, Mandera six, Machakos six, and Nakuru five.

In particular, the county chiefs allege none of the 47 counties to date has received money from the National government in support of Covid-19 response.

 The Governors’ plea for funding was urgent. “Release of funds to County governments to enable them procure commodities and equipment in response to Covid-19,” they said in their submission to Senator Johnson Sakaja (pictured)-led committee.

Mass testing

They also expressed concern on the planned mass testing saying there are only two laboratories at the national  level with their corresponding branches carrying out tests.

They include Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and National Influenza Centre laboratories in Nairobi, Kisumu, Welcome Trust Kilifi and Aga Khan Nairobi.

  The governor’s lobby says this poses as a great risk in the country as more counties are reporting active cases.

“Most counties have active cases and accreditation to operationalise regional laboratories has not been done and they do not have sample collection kits.

These two laboratories and their branches do not have adequate testing kits,” reads part of submission to the ad hoc committee.

The county chiefs claimed though Machakos, Malindi, Wajir, Busia and Trans Nzoia have laboratories constructed and equipped by the World Bank, they are yet to start operating.

 The governors claimed use of gene expert machines in the counties could not be used because they had no received cartridges to start testing.

On the other hand, the governors appealed to the National Emergency Response Committee on coronavirus (NETCC) led by Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe to ensure counties are provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for health workers. They argued they last received the kits in March 2020 from Kemri.

 “County governments who have tried to purchase the kits have failed due to competition between the National  and County governments.

This has exposed the county health workers,” they observed, adding that prices of the few available kits are too high.

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