Vulnerable citizens to receive weekly stipend from State

Friday, April 17th, 2020 00:00 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation at State House, Nairobi, yesterday. He is with Cabinet secretaries (from left) Mutahi Kagwe (Health), Fred Matiang’i (Interior), CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and Ukur Yatani (CS Treasury). Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday moved to cushion vulnerable Kenyans against the effects of the coronavirus by announcing a weekly stipend for poor families in Nairobi and a welfare package for health workers.

To boost the fight in the regions, the President said the national government had released Sh5 billion to support the vulnerable and buy protective gear in the Covid-19 fight.

Uhuru announced that needy households in Nairobi had been identified and would be the first recipients of the weekly Covid-19 support stipend. 

The piloting of the programme started on Wednesday and some of the beneficiaries received the stipends yesterday.

Uhuru was addressing the nation yesterday from the State House, Nairobi, on the status of the coronavirus pandemic.

His announcement appeared to be a response to the concerns raised by the doctors’ union. He directed the Health ministry to address the plight of frontline health workers.

He said the welfare package for health workers includes medical insurance companies to cover their health requirements and protective equipment.

Health workers have accused the government of  failing to protect and motivate them.

Cash transfer

And to help cushion the vulnerable against the impact of Covid-19, the government also yesterday released Sh8.5 billion to the elderly and vulnerable, under the cash transfer programme run by the Labour ministry.

“An additional Sh5 billion has been released to the County governments’ kitty to support their response to the crisis.

These monies will be devoted specifically to cushion the most vulnerable people in the society and to protect our health care workers,” the President said.

The  country’s infection number reached 234 yesterday after the confirmation of  nine new cases. So far,11 people have succumbed to the virus while 56 have recovered and discharged from hospital.

The President further said another Sh500 million, which was in arrears, had also been released to persons with severe disabilities.

He said because the disease had spread to more than half of the 47 counties, the government had set aside resources to empower the devolved units to handle coronavirus.

“The way counties prepare and respond to this pandemic is critical. As a result, I am directing the county governments to receive a three months waiver from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) for the purchase of masks and PPEs to protect our citizens and health care workers from infections. The waiver applies to sourcing for these products locally,” he said.

At the same time, Uhuru said the crisis had brought the uniqueness of Kenyans, who have shown that they can invent, innovate and respond in a timely manner to challenges.

He cited the example of the invention of a cost-effective ventilator by Kenyatta University students. 

He also lauded the spirit of compassion and empathy among the citizens saying the adopt-a-needy family initiative in Kibera, where well-wishers had taken up the task of supporting needy families.

“I would encourage other Kenyans to take similar steps,” he said.

As part of the post- Covid-19 measures, the President directed the Education ministry to work with stakeholders to come up with steps to mitigate any negative impact, especially on the fate of national examinations, on the students as a result of the measures taken to contain the pandemic.

He added that governments were working on the suspension of debts to enable countries to spend more in combating the pandemic, as well as economic recovery. 

Avoid complacency

Parliament has also been asked to expeditiously consider legislative proposals before the House that are expected to ease the tax burden for Kenyans and strengthen the country’s economy at a time when that help is urgently needed.

He said the country had made strides in the war against Covid-19, but warned that any complacency would claw back on the gains.  In the last 24 hours 704 tests were tested.

“Fortunately for us, 53 persons also turned negative and had been discharged. So far 11 people have died while another 4000 are under quarantine,” he said.

Another 156 people are in isolation with over 10,000 people so far tested. President Uhuru also said that the testing would be upscaled starting with the targeted areas after the Ministry of Health received more testing kits.

“The affected persons range in age from two years to 64 and come from every socio-economic group.

We are not out of the woods yet. So far we have done well in responding to the pandemic but we must remain extremely careful to protect our lives, our economy,” he said.

“The disease is highly infectious. If we did not take strong and immediate steps, the damage to our people’s lives, to our economy, to our country could have been far worse than the current difficulties we are going through,” he added.

He said the measures were slowing the rate at which the disease was spreading “but there are still infections underway in nearly half of our counties.

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