#WORLDHEALTHDAY2021

Commemorating World Health Day during pandemic

Availability of Covid vaccine rolled out in the world marks the difference in this day.

In Summary

• WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said that Covid has exacerbated inequalities both between and within countries.

• The world is commemorating the day for a second time in a row under the coronavirus that has ravaged the lives of people across the globe.

Passengers being screened for Covid-19 symptoms.
COVID-19: Passengers being screened for Covid-19 symptoms.
Image: STEPHEN ATARIKO

Today the world is marking World Health Day and the World Health Organisation has launched a new campaign to build a fairer, healthier world.

The world is commemorating the day for a second time in a row under the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the lives of people globally.

Kenya has so far reported more than 2,000 deaths related to the virus and about 139,000 people have tested positive since the virus was first confirmed in the country in March 2020.

Since then, the government put up measures to protect its citizens from the virus.

Among the measures was to increase the number of healthcare workers in the country and to ensure that all the health facilities were well equipped.

Last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed all the 47 county governments to have at least 300 isolation beds and 15 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds.

With all the efforts put in place, healthcare remains wanting in the country, and the situation has been blown up by the virus.

Last month, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said that the country was running out of gas cylinders, the critical equipment for Covid-19 patients.

The CS urged Kenyans to present any excess medical cylinders to hospitals that have patients in need of oxygen.

He urged those using cylinders for non-covid care to surrender them immediately.

"I don't think people are appreciating just how important it is that we don't just have cylinders lying around when people are dying because of lack of oxygen" Kagwe said.

As the country struggles to acquire more cylinders, ICU beds across the country are becoming fewer as more patients are admitted.

Last week, Machakos County Governor Alfred Mutua asked the residents to take care of themselves since the ICU beds were full.

The government has continued with its efforts to end the pandemic, doing all that it can to protect its citizens.

Last month, the President asked Kenyans to put their health first against the virus as he locked five counties that had been zoned as areas with more infection of the virus.

The five included Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kajiado, and Nakuru counties.

The big difference during this year's commemoration is the presence of the Covid vaccine that has been rolled out in many parts of the country.

Kenya received 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on March 3, 2021, bringing hope to the country in the fight against the virus.

Another 100,000 doses of the same vaccine were donated by the government of India to Kenya on March 11.

By Tuesday 6, the government had vaccinated 325,592 people, with Nairobi, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Kiambu, and Kisumu leading in the exercise.

Last week, however, the state banned the importation of vaccines by the private sector.,  has said.

During a press briefing last Friday at Afya House, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe made it clear that any such licenses given will be terminated.  

“There will be no licensing of private players in the importation of vaccines and any such license given will be and is hereby terminated. The only agent for vaccination in Kenya will remain the government of the Republic of Kenya until further notice," Kagwe said.

He also added that effective April 2, 2021, the government shut the window of private sector importation, distribution and administration of vaccines.

Another health headache in the country has been the inadequate ARVs that had to put people living with HIV to wait longer before resuming getting the drugs.

The country is currently going through a distressing shortage of ARVs and most health facilities have enough drugs to last only one month.

Most facilities have also run out of test kits for HIV including Dried Blood Spots (DBS) bundles, used to test for the virus in babies.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said that the disruption of the dispensation of ARVs was occasioned by failure to receive a consignment of the donation that was expected to arrive in October 2020.

But as a reprieve to the people living with HIV, the government said that it received some of the drugs from other pipeline sources and is currently restoking the facilities around the country to ensure the continuity of supply to patients.

During this commemoration, the World Health Organisation has launched a new campaign to build a fairer, healthier world.

WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said that Covid has exacerbated inequalities both between and within countries.

“While we have all undoubtedly been impacted by the pandemic, the poorest and most marginalized have been hit hardest - both in terms of lives and livelihoods lost.”

Tedros said that the world must make five vital changes to achieve health equity, which is investing inequitable production and access to Covid tools, investing in primary health care, prioritising health and social protection, building safe, healthy, inclusive neighbourhoods, and enhancing data and health information systems.