ACCOUNTABILITY

Health ministry must account for Covid-19 donations

The printing cost is too expensive for simple admission forms that do not have security features of a passport.

In Summary

• The public is demanding accountability for donations of PPEs, testing kits and masks by foreign governments, INGOs and local entities, including banks.

• There is no option in giving details of where all these items have been taken.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a press briefing at Afya House
BRIEFING: Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a press briefing at Afya House
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

It is interesting how the Covid-19 media briefs by CS health Mutahi Kagwe have evolved faster than the behaviour change by Kenyans.

Citizens have gone back to behaving normally, perhaps only pausing at three o’clock for the daily media briefings. Previously, the MoH controlled the ‘show’ and justified their modelling of 10,000 infections by the end of April.

The figures didn’t add up as projected and the briefings are now coated with justifications. So, why are we briefed on numbers tested per day without offering a comparison with projected targets?

Initially, the planned mass testing by the end of April was to target 250, 000, translating to a rate of 3,700 per day. As of now, the Ministry of Health is only managing about 1, 000 people a day, totalling to just above 20,000.

The ministry should inform of the hindrances and challenges they are facing, and also tell Kenyans whether the kits are faulty as some leaders in the region have claimed. One repeated sentence is that modelling helps in preparedness but the briefings fall short of illustrating how ready the level four and five hospitals are. For example, how many new ICU beds have been added?

In a recent briefing, journalists for the explanation of the expenditure of World Bank donations, particularly on the Sh4 million for tea and snacks. The response was not very kind because, whenever an issue of accountability is raised to public officers the response is  “don’t politicise” the issue.

The public is demanding accountability for donations of PPEs, testing kits and masks by foreign governments, INGOs and local entities, including banks.

There is no option in giving details of where all these items have been taken.

Why are government officials catching feelings when told to account, considering that some expenses were offered free? For example, media houses are airing Covid-19 ads on prevention measures are doing so free of charge yet Sh70 million expenditure is indicated. That needs to be explained.

The printing cost is too expensive for simple admission forms that do not have security features of a passport. These expenditures are signalling smoke and we need to be assured that there is no fire. Accountability is not optional. It’s a requirement under Article 201 of the Constitution and it must not be propaganda.

We know that war on corruption has been “quarantined” owing to the fact that courts are not operating normally. One year down the line, President Uhuru Kenyatta has not appointed an Auditor General, despite having a pool of financial experts having applied for this job. From past experiences, disasters and pandemics provide a smokescreen for dubious transactions for personal benefit with no or little scrutiny. Past disasters have been money minting schemes for disasterpreneurs.

Covid-19 should not be another case.

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