Shift focus to counties in anti-Covid-19 pandemic fight
“At the moment, we are praying and crossing our fingers the pandemic does not reach the level of what is happening in the US, Italy, Spain, China and other Western countries.
It could be worse here because we are vulnerable,” Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was quoted as saying in our yesterday’s edition.
This is the prayer of every Kenyan, especially in the rural areas. Reason? They are vulnerable.
Apart from Nairobi, and perhaps one or two other counties, the devolved units lack capacity to deal with Covid-19.
Safe for isolation wards and Mickey Mouse intensive care units, most counties have no facilities, equipment or expertise to deal with the deadly respiratory disease.
But on March 11, the Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya assured that “there is no cause for alarm as stringent preventive measures have been put in place at the counties”. We hope that is the case.
Be that as it may, we urge the national government to replicate the sense of emergency displayed in dealing with Corona cases in Nairobi at the counties.
As Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has confirmed, the pandemic has reached the community transmission stage. This will no doubt be a huge burden to the counties.
Therefore, attention should now be directed to the rural areas. The National government should disburse emergency money and other resources to beef up health systems in the counties.
The majority of elderly people, who are more vulnerable to the virus, live in rural areas.
One shudders to imagine what would happen if there was an outbreak of the severity witnessed in Italy, US and Spain, in our rural areas. It would be catastrophic.
And even as we call on the National government to deliver more resources, county governments must not sit and wait for the crisis. They should realign their budgets and spending priorities to invest more in emergency healthcare.
They should also initiate elaborate campaigns, through chiefs and other local leaders, to tame the alarming level of ignorance and poor hygiene in the villages.
In the absence of caution and proactive measures, counties may not be in a position to fight Covid-19 if it strikes.
And as more countries across the world exercise partial or total lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus, Kenya should not shy away from considering such an option before it’s too late to act.