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Counties still ill-prepared to tackle COVID-19 – report

By Hillary Mageka
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020
In summary

A senate watchdog committee has described the sorry state of preparedness in a number of counties to fight COVID-19 disease.

The Senate Adhoc committee on Covid-19 situation in Kenya says, six months into the fight against the contagion, some county governments are still not ready or unprepared to tackle the declining COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee’s verdict comes after they visited the counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Isiolo and Meru in its whirlwind tours to check the devolved units’ preparedness to fight the novel virus.

The senators’ visits followed reports that most of the counties were still ill-prepared to combat the virus – six months after it hit the country.

Despite the counties receiving billions of shillings from the national government and donors to fight the infection, some counties are still ill-prepared with inadequacies of facilities and contact tracing.

The revelations come barely a month after a damning report by Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakango revealed that about Sh10 billion of the Sh13.1 billion that had been disbursed to the counties were lying idle in the bank of accounts of most county governments.

The committee chaired by Nominated Senator Sylvia Kasanga, has cited Isiolo, Kwale, and Kilifi which she said are facing capacity challenges to fight the pandemic that has killed close to one million people across the globe.

“Isiolo was the first one we visited and we were not very satisfied. In fact, we have invited the governor again to come and explain to us a couple of things that were not clear,” Ms. Kasanga said in a phone interview with the People Daily.

“Isiolo had not met protocols and targets given by the national response team on the number of isolation beds, ICU beds among others.” She added.

While some counties are yet to meet the 300-bed isolation bed capacity requirement, she said, on the other hand, some devolved units still do not have technical personnel to operate the sophisticated machines in the ICU rooms.

For instance, Kasanga disclosed, in Kilifi County, the county government lacked technical personnel to operate ICU beds.

“There were big challenges in Kilifi. There were seven ICU beds the county was told to procure but they don’t have the technical capacity to run the ICU beds. ICU is not just a bed,” she explained.

In Kwale, Msambweni hospital had not operationalized to do COVID 19 tests. This is despite the hospital having lab technicians.

“They have lab technicians but they are not able to do tests. The samples have to come from Kwale and go all the way to Kilifi because Mombasa was also very busy at that time, so you can imagine the turnaround time,” the senator noted reiterating that counties are still struggling to set up quarantine and isolation centers.

She added: “We found all those issues and we had to come back and sit with the National Response team and the Ministry of Health and asked them why they have not empowered some of these counties.

According to the report by the CoB, counties received Sh13.1 billion between March 13, when the Ministry of Health confirmed the first Coronavirus case in the country.

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