WAR ON CORONAVIRUS

Covid-19: Leaders should help effect social discipline

Kagwe has said Kenyans have been warned against contracting the disease but they feign ignorance.

In Summary

• While it is easy to criminalise and even brutalise misbehaviours, we need to look at the underlying causes with a view of nipping them in the bud.

• Behaviour change requires a deep understanding of problems and devising humane working methods and incentives for their correction.

Business as usual for traders at Wakulima Market on March 25, 2020
INDISCIPLINE: Business as usual for traders at Wakulima Market on March 25, 2020
Image: MERCY MUMO

The viral spread of the coronavirus in Kenya and the world at large has been mainly caused by social indiscipline to the established rules for its prevention.

Mobility with undue disregard for social distancing, time and locational restrictions; not wearing face masks and lack of proper hand washing/ sanitisation continue to aid the spread of this  infectious disease. Health and government officials have repeatedly told us this.

On March 24, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said, ”Kenyans are very indiscipline and it will cost us. We want responsibility among citizens, Keep your kids home...you people of the media need to tell them”.

Kagwe said Kenyans have been warned against contracting the disease but they feign ignorance.

At the time, there were reports of people defying various government directives including the requirement to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from abroad. However, while it is easy to criminalise and even brutalise these misbehaviours, we need to look at the underlying causes with a view of nipping them in the bud. Behaviour change requires a deep understanding of problems and devising humane working methods and incentives for their correction.

Our leaders have unfortunately let us down on this issue. For example, they are not using the public kitties they manage to sponsor a large-scale purchase and distribution of face masks and hand sanitisers to the wananchi. Neither are they curbing public movements by rolling out a feeding programme throughout this difficult period. 

Kenyans, and especially our leaders, should be at the forefront in facilitating the adoption of social discipline during this extraordinary health crisis.

Hassan Malik Mohamed

Garissa