Protect Coronavirus kitties in counties from theft
“The virus is now domiciled across the length and breadth of our republic—from down south in Kilifi to Mandera in the north.
And from the west in Vihiga to Kitui in the east.” -Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi.
That’s the confirmation Kenyans dreaded most. This, amid affirmation by governors, that counties lack capacity to handle coronavirus pandemic.
While reporting new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, Mwangangi talked of massive infection outside Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale (counties which have been declared epicentres of the virus).
Now 21 counties have reported at least a case of Covid-19. The emerging trend is reason for worry given that most counties can barely deal with even a mild case of the deadly respiratory virus.
This was affirmed the same day by Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.
Earlier, we called for, and today reiterate, a refocus in the fight against coronavirus by enhancing counties’ preparedness and capacity, including re-channelling resources from the national government, and other agencies, to counties. This should now, more than ever, be a priority.
The national government should utilise the emergency kitty, and other available resources, on appropriate measures to ensure the cases reported in the counties do not explode. Rural counties are more vulnerable and an explosion of coronavirus cases would be disastrous.
The virus thrives in situations of poor hygiene and congested environments, factors that best define most of our rural areas.
While we applaud the government for the critical measures it has so far taken to stop the spread of the disease, we urge for a review of strategy in addressing the emerging trend before it reaches crisis levels.
But even as we call for channelling of more resources to counties, accountability in the management of funds is paramount.
It is disheartening to learn that some counties are already misappropriating resources in the name of fighting the pandemic. That is sad, even atrocious.
Accounting officers in the counties must tame growing propensity for corruption and misuse of funds.
Already, there are claims of overspending on basic budgets in three counties in Central, Eastern and Western Kenya. This is shameful and must stop.
Governors should ensure prudent deployment of resources. It would be most tragic if the nation loses the war on the pandemic because of graft.