PANDEMIC

Coronavirus outbreak was a test of our health systems

As a country, we failed the integrity test

In Summary

• Our readiness to tackle the spread of the virus was marred by irregularities in procurement of Covid-19 response commodities from and by Kemsa.

• As a basic rule, prevention of the spread was to be the first instinct, but after the virus got into the country, the business interests hijacked public health response.

A nurse looks at facilities at the Kapsabet County Referral Hospital, which has set aside an isolation ward for Covid-19 patients.
ISOLATION: A nurse looks at facilities at the Kapsabet County Referral Hospital, which has set aside an isolation ward for Covid-19 patients.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

The onset and the spread of coronavirus was a test of the readiness, capabilities, and integrity of our national and county health systems.

We cannot boast we have passed this test.

Our readiness to tackle the spread of the virus was marred by irregularities in procurement of Covid-19 response commodities from and by Kemsa.

As a basic rule, prevention of the spread was to be the first instinct, but after the virus got into the country, the business interests hijacked public health response.

Additionally, donated PPE for health workers went missing, only later to be sold back to the government.

If the NTV expose on Covid Millionaires is anything to go by, we also a lot of money, which was to fill in the gap for those who could not afford masks, sanitiser, and other protective equipment to keep themselves safe, and their loved ones.

Our country's leadership failed the integrity test, but succeeded in making the situation escalate into other issues such as degradation in mental health and preventable infections.

This should all be a wake-up call. Infectious disease experts have said that it is about time that we learnt to live with coronavirus, using safety measures at all times.

Additionally, they have described the world as ‘a playground for such infectious diseases’ due to the diversities of altered human and environmental trends, insufficient global health control mechanisms, and the possibilities of mutating animal viruses that transmit to humans.

Above all, our focus should be heavy on preventive health, rather than treatment, as it is at the moment. This will ensure the impact of such a happening is reduced significantly.

Onyimbi Nelson, Kisumu