COMMENT

Obey Covid-19 protocols to protect our health workers

The inadequacy of testing commodities, including reagent and testing kits at Kenya Medical Research Institute, posing major challenges in effectively fighting Covid 19

In Summary
  • The ultimate support that these heroes and heroines in the health sector need is that we respect the protocols and guidelines issued by the World Health Organization and Kenya’s Ministry of Health. 
  • As schools and churches emerge as at-risk infection areas, the county government of Siaya will train its focus on this area too. 
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga receives PPE at Siaya County Referral Hospital on Monday.
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga receives PPE at Siaya County Referral Hospital on Monday.
Image: By Lameck Baraza

Historically, specific citizens have made sacrifices that have brought lifesaving positive change, glory and honour to our country and counties — whether as individuals or groups.

Without regard for ethnicity or economic status, these heroes and heroines emerge to make personal and communal sacrifices akin to those made by our forefathers in the pre-colonial period.

In the face of the coronavirus, our modern-day heroes and heroines are without a doubt the frontline health workers. These individuals even pay the ultimate price while working round the clock to ensure we are safe.

 

Some have not joined their loved ones in a long time so that they protect them from possible infection.  They are called upon at odd hours to respond to the emergencies related to the virus.

While the rest of us can and should socially distance from others, these frontline health workers can’t do so, because they are required to constantly offer services to the infected.

Others who merit space on the heroes’ list are those working at major Covid-19 testing centres. They expose themselves to the virus to deliver timely results.

The county and national governments endeavour to support these heroes through timely procurement of personal protection equipment, construction and equipping of isolation units, provision of intensive-care units and making available oxygen in health facilities.

However, the ultimate support that these heroes and heroines need is that we respect the protocols and guidelines issued by the World Health Organization and Kenya’s Ministry of Health. It is only by constantly washing our hands properly, keeping social distance, appropriately wearing masks and travelling only when necessary that we will protect those working in our health institutions.

These simple steps will ensure we don’t catch nor spread the virus, thereby eliminating the chance of visiting health facilities. It is the highest form of patriotism to protect those who protect us by doing what we can do instead of pointing fingers.

Some counties such as Siaya, which I govern, have done well so far. The county has registered various achievements, including effective prevention, resulting in relatively low number of cases, effective management of cases at our isolation units, resulting in a single fatality at the facilities and procurement of personal protection equipment. Others are securing quarantine units and construction 300-bed capacity isolation units in three different facilities.

 

Amid these achievements, the inadequacy of financial resources to combat the virus remains. There are also serious gaps both in human resource numbers and skilled personnel to effectively run the new facilities set up to manage the virus.

Further, the inadequacy of testing commodities, including reagent and testing kits at Kenya Medical Research Institute, poses major challenges. The inadequacy of PPE and disinfectants, coupled with noncompliance with the Covid-19 protocols by the general public, is another problem that we continue to grapple with.

My administration is working closely with the national government and other partners to enforce these protocols while enhancing risk communication to the public.

And to strengthen home-based care, we will cascade management to community health volunteers and adjust our transport sector protocols in line with national recommendations.

As schools and churches emerge as at-risk infection areas, the county government of Siaya will train its focus on this area too. It will also regulate burial ceremonies to ensure they are conducted within the protocols.

The writer is second-term Siaya governor