ACCOUNTABILITY

Tell public how Covid-19 funds are used, state told

Lobby wants update on the extent of infection, info on where the patient lives made public

In Summary

• Publicising such information will ensure accountability in the appropriation of the funds and allow the public to ask questions.

• Huge amounts of money including from the World Bank and the WHO and more from public coffers have been mobilised towards the coronavirus pandemic response.  

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a briefing on Covid-19.
TRANSPARENCY: Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a briefing on Covid-19.
Image: MAGRET WANJIRU

The state should make public information about the resources mobilised and how they have been used in the response to the coronavirus crisis, a human rights lobby has said. 

Transparency International on Wednesday said it believes guaranteeing adequate access to the flow of accurate and verifiable information on the extent of the crisis is critical in an emergency. 

“Agencies involved in the response should ensure transparency in the procurement of life-saving medicines and other medical supplies, with the greater effort taken to prevent gouging of drugs and other supplies such as hand sanitiser, masks and gloves),” acting executive director Sheila Masinde said in a statement. 

“All procurement information should be published in due course, with all procurement subjected to an audit." 

Huge amounts of money including from the World Bank and the WHO and more from public coffers have been mobilised towards the coronavirus pandemic response. 

Information, including an accurate and verified update on the extent of the infection and where the patient lives, among other relevant details, should be provided to the public through a dedicated public portal that is easily accessible, the statement reads. 

While commending the steps taken by the state in response, the lobby wants intervention teams formed to involve the public through state and non-state actors such as civil society organisations and faith-based groups to ensure public participation.

Besides the Emergency Response Fund Board appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the lobby suggests that a special response working group should be installed to include 'state and non-state actors including CSOs, faith-based organisations and the private sector among other key actors'. 

Most of the intervention by the state including insistence to the citizenry to stay at home without - a reciprocal safety net to meet their sustenance needs - have been seen by observers as insensitive and withdrawn from their realities. 

But the TI asserts that involving citizens in the response decisions will ensure meaningful and free participation of citizens and stakeholders in decision-making processes and foster accountability in the implementation of response measures. 

In addition, the lobby says, the government should cushion the bigger population from the effects of the outbreak who require to leave their houses to get their daily bread. 

Further, the group called for the protection of whistleblowers who may raise the attention to issues that concern the public concerning the Covid-19 response, calling for enactment of Whistle-blowers Protection Bill that has stalled in Parliament.

Critical supplies including protective gear should be availed to ensure the safety of health workers and other personnel such as security and airport surveillance workers providing critical services, the group said.

Edited by R.Wamochie