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Counties ramping up efforts to contain spread of coronavirus

Monday May 18 2020
OPARANYA

Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya addresses the press at his office in Kakamega town on May 13 on Covid-19 preparedness. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ALLAN OLINGO

Counties have increased efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

From creating isolation units within hospitals and quarantine centres at the various Kenya Medical Training College campuses, to buying key medical equipment, devolved units have gone all out to fight coronavirus. They are liaising with the national government as they seek to form a united front against the pandemic.

A month ago, President Kenyatta, while delivering an address on the virus, said the county governments were well placed to lead the fight against the pandemic given that they have “continued to show the power to deliver”.

EMERGENCY FUNDS

With health as a devolved unit, counties have since established emergency funds and committees to take on the virus.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said they have established a Sh5 billion emergency response fund.

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“Through the supplementary budget, county governments have committed about Sh5 billion to the emergency fund to respond to Covid-19 and most governments have put this in their supplementary budgets,” he said.

Of the 47 counties, 22 have been affected by the pandemic with Nairobi leading in terms of reported positive cases at 419.

It’s followed by Mombasa with 314 cases and Kajiado 30, showing how quickly the virus has spread and how important it has become for counties to be in the forefront of the Covid-19 war.

“We’re happy so far on how counties have taken measures to tackle this pandemic. We’ve seen significant strides in the fight against the pandemic despite the various challenges they faced urging citizens to adhere to Ministry of Health guidelines,” Mr Oparanya said.

In conjunction with the national government, counties have formulated guidelines to fend off the spread of the virus, including closing markets, restaurants, bars and social places while enforcing strict social distancing rules in public spaces.

EMERGING HOTSPOTS

The national government has also effected measures to restrict movement in Nairobi, Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi, and Mandera counties.

However, some counties, including Wajir, Taita-Taveta and Kajiado are emerging to be hotspots.

The Health ministry has noted that Nairobi and Mombasa, despite having the strongest health systems in the country, remain the riskiest counties.

The two have the highest number of health facilities, compared to other counties, and the largest concentration of healthcare professionals.

The national government is recruiting 5,000 skilled health workers at the county level to fight the pandemic.

“Our counties had submitted their requirements to the national government and the positions have been advertised,” the CoG boss said.

“Level 4 to Level 6 hospitals are also recruiting at least 1,000 health officers, meaning, there will be an additional 6,000 medical workers in the fight against the pandemic. I urge all counties to heighten their level of preparedness,” Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said.

A recent report by the Institute of Economic Affairs showed that Siaya, Vihiga, Kitui, Kwale and Homa Bay are the most vulnerable counties to the spread of Covid-19.

FRAGILE HEALTH SYSTEMS

The report analysed all the 47 counties and concluded that the five have the most fragile health systems and are inhabited by people whose heath indicators make them vulnerable.
Health capacity index.

The report ranked Lamu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Tana River, Kajiado, Isiolo, Tana River and Samburu as the “safest” because of a “high score on the health capacity index based on high scores for healthcare facilities and health workers relative to its population size”.

County Covid-19 committees are implementing their mandate of contact tracing, MoH guidelines enforcement and formulation of additional measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are also executing the CS’s call to employ additional personnel to tackle the virus.

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