DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

Handling of coronavirus, locusts maddening

The public is angry with the handling of the two disasters so far.

In Summary
  • We should arrange to have enough quarantine facilities.
  • I mean quarantine and not self-quarantine where we trust people to do so on their own
Handling of virus, locusts maddening
Handling of virus, locusts maddening
Image: OZONE

A country must always be prepared for all types of disasters. The government must not allow its citizens to suffer unnecessarily because of its disaster unpreparedness. There are many types of disasters that countries normally prepare for.

When we are, thus, caught by a disaster as if we were unaware of it, then we must question the ability of our government to protect us. Some body and some institutions must be held responsible. We pay taxes and, therefore, expect the Meteorological Department, for instance, will give us accurate weather predications so we can plan our affairs correctly. We expect Health officials to protect us from deadly diseases without any compromise. Luckily for government, there are UN agencies that are charged with the responsibility of helping us in some of these areas. They often warn us in advance of pending disasters.

For instance, Kenya was advised by FAO of impending desert locust invasion sometime ago. For the locusts to have come from Yemen, crossed the Red Sea, travelled across parts of Ethiopia and Somalia and reached Kenya to find us unprepared, shows something is seriously wrong. Somebody should pay the price for this carelessness.

 

We are facing a serious economic crisis as a result of this locust disaster. Many parts of this country are now under attack by locusts and we should expect a food crisis; some of our exports may be affected. All you need to do is talk to farmers in the affected areas to appreciate the magnitude of the problem.

We keep hearing that we did not have enough pesticides. How is this possible? This being Kenya, we may even have had poor quality pesticide. Did we move fast enough to purchase sufficient quantities or were we caught up in bureaucratic delays. Why did we not coordinate with neighbouring countries in advance as this is a regional problem.

These are the questions many Kenyans are asking, especially after hearing that FAO had alerted countries. May be we should declare this a national disaster and seek external help if we are unable to handle it on our own. After all, we did so with HIV successfully.

My second example is that of the new coronavirus that has caused havoc in China and which is developing into an international crisis. The World Health Organization has warned African countries to prepare for the virus as it is concerned about our ability to deal with it. It has warned that Africa is the least prepared continent.

It is questionable as to whether we have the laboratory capacity to handle it. Are we stocking medicines and appropriate supplies? Are we giving our health workers and the public sufficient education on what precautions to take? What are we doing to protect our border points, such as airports and road entry points?

This is a fast spreading virus from what we are being told and when it reaches here we should expect many deaths. There are many rumours as to the accuracy of the number of deaths that China is publicly announcing. Nonetheless, the important question is whether our Health ministry has the capacity to deal with the potential pending crisis.

It is questionable as to whether we have the laboratory capacity to handle it. Are we stocking medicines and appropriate supplies? Are we giving our health workers and the public sufficient education on what precautions to take? What are we doing to protect our border points, such as airports and road entry points?

We all saw the frightening handling of a flight from China that arrived at JKIA with 230 passengers. Even if Kenya Airways has stopped flying to China, that does not mean that there are no people travelling to and from there through other airlines.

It is for this reason that we should arrange to have enough quarantine facilities. I mean quarantine and not self quarantine where we trust people to do so on their own. We must not gamble with the lives of our people. The government must understand that the public is angry with the handling of the two disasters so far.

In conclusion, I appeal to our various government institutions to be ready to tackle disasters in a timely and professional manner in future. I have deliberately chosen to be alarmist as it’s unacceptable to lose even one life due to slow action.