Kenyans need proactive approach in Covid-19 fight

Friday, July 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

Hesbon Owilla 

In the last four months that Covid-19 has dominated the headlines,  it appears a lot has been done and we have seen a multi-sectoral approach by different players and arms of the government.  

On the economic front the government’s economic stimulus packages and measures by key players in the banking sector have come in to cushion Kenyans. 

Granted, a lot can still be done to cushion the informal sector workers who constitute 86 percent of the workforce, especially the ones who have either lost their jobs or have closed shop because of Covid-19.

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has played a big role by enhancing liquidity through reduced Cash Reserve Ratio advanced to banks and the credit guarantees, and even though many businesses find it hard to take advantage of these fiscal measures because of the disrupted supply chain, these are fairly solid measures. 

Despite all these measures our lack of carefulness in following the laid down mitigation protocols is not helping.

Our treatment of this disease casually is probably the reason why there is an increase in the number of calls from relatives and neighbours in distress and lots of us looking for financial help because landlords have been good for far too long and have asked us to move on. 

You see, at some point Kenyans were extremely cautious and almost every other conversation in the public domain revolved around the risk of contagion. 

A content analysis of the newspapers and broadcast media around March and April indicates that all efforts were towards containing the virus and everyone was pulling together; a situation that seems to have slackened in the last five weeks or so.

We need to understand that today there are more people outside there who can spread the virus than there was three months ago and they could be asymptomatic and yet our carefree attitude is a lot more conspicuous. 

The irony is that walking around the streets and listening to conversations around, everyone seems to be waiting with excitement for the president to open the economy.

You even wonder who closed down the economy. The truth of the matter is that the economy is very much open and we can make the most of the hours we have but to play our part today we need to be a lot more cautious.

We need to follow the protocols by the ministry of health to the last letter because that is the only way we can hasten the return to building the economy the way we want to. 

The government seems to be walking this thin line between the safety of the population and preventing a glaring economic recession.

Therefore, the containment measures which definitely have an impact on the economy should not be considered as closure of the economy, but a balancing act meant to protect Kenyans while at the same time sustaining the economy the best way possible. 

As Kenyans hold their breaths waiting for the president to pronounce himself on what next, it would be important to put the dilemma the president is facing in perspective.

He institutes more stringent containment measures and a sense of safety and a hastened pathway to a flattened curve is assured.

The flipside of stringent containment measures is a longer route to economic recovery. 

Interestingly, many Kenyans are asking for easing up of the safety measures and allowing Kenyans to go back to what many call the normal life.

Experts and economist argue that this pathway will set us on an early economic recovery, but is certain to escalate the risk of contagion and compromise public health safety. - [email protected]

More on News