Shortage of resources cripples W. Pokot's Covid-19 war

Thursday May 28 2020

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo (right) receives food donations from Broadway Group of Companies to distribute to families most affected by coronavirus, in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County, on May 13, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Shortages of funds, infrastructure and health workers have been cited as the main challenges in the battle against coronavirus in West Pokot County.

The county government has not set aside money to stop the spread of the pandemic. Fortunately, it has not recorded a Covid-19 case.

Governor John Lonyangapuo recently said the devolved unit has little in its coffers after settling its pending bills.

“The President told us to pay our bills. We are still waiting for money from the Ministry of Health. West Pokot is a coronavirus high risk county since we border Uganda. We hope things will improve after the assembly passed the supplementary budget,” Prof Lonyangapuo said.

The county boss said his administration is struggling to combat the spread of coronavirus, having few health workers.

West Pokot County does not have an intensive care unit ward. And coronavirus sensitisation campaigns have been few in a region with a 31 per cent literacy rate.


West Pokot has 800,000 residents, according to the August 2019 population census. A majority of them have no access to safety equipment such as face masks. Moreover, social distancing is rarely observed in this largely rural arid county.

Prof Lonyangapuo said he is following up on the recruitment of the County Public service Board chief executive.

“No country has managed this disease. President Donald Trump of the US released a lot of money to the states to manage it but look at the numbers dying. Let’s hope the government will give us money. We cannot even pay salaries,” he said.


The governor added that his administration is working with the government to buy ICU beds. “There are isolation wards at Sigor, Kacheliba, Alale, Chepareria and Kabichibich sub-county hospitals. Every isolation room has three or four beds. Kapenguria Referral Hospital has a modern isolation ward,” the governor said.

Mr Benjamin Lopuoyang, a Kapenguria resident, urged the two levels of government to take face masks and the war on coronavirus to remote areas.

“Many people do not know the work of a face mask. Residents of remote places like Chepkobhe, Chepareria, Kacheliba and Alale may not even know what a mask is,” he said.

Mr Lopuoyang added that the government should restrict movement from one county to another to stop the Covid-19 spread.

Mr Abel Lokwete, another local, asked leaders to speak with one voice when sensitising the region.

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