It is leaders’ moral duty to put health first

Fumigation

A health official fumigates a school dormitory on October 2. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenya’s daily/weekly infection rate, in addition to the death rate, is collectively higher than in the first six months after the virus was first confirmed.
  • There are many painful lessons on how to deal with this virus.

It is squarely a leadership liability that politicians were allowed to host mass congregations that exposed more Kenyans to coronavirus. During these super-spreader political gatherings, social distancing, wearing of masks or sanitising of hands weren’t enforced.

Large groups of people were whipped into a frenzy as leaders evangelised about issues that can actually wait until the country has a clearer management model on Covid-19. Instead, unchecked rallies that didn’t adhere to the pandemic protocols were insistently being held by those in high office.

On top of that, schools were partially and hurriedly reopened, piling more risks of contracting coronavirus upon parents and learners when it was obvious that requisite structures were lacking.

School capacities needed investing in to ensure learners don’t get exposed to the virus, with a rigorous plan on how to slowly phase what would eventually be a full reopening.

Most of the infrastructural needs weren’t met, neither were the lives of learners and teachers prioritised, which is why more than 38 Form Four students at Kabarnet Boys have tested positive for Covid-19.

Five teachers of Bahati Girls and 10 Maranda High students tested positive and Tononoka Secondary School principal Mohammed Khamis died of Covid-19 days after infections were reported among staff. Infections are escalating, yet leaders seem to have abandoned their duty as heads of institutions and completely shirked their moral roles. The daily Covid-19 statistics are alarming. The past week has seen more than 24 Kenyans dying every 24 hours, plus hundreds more testing positive.

Painful lessons

Kenya’s daily/weekly infection rate, in addition to the death rate, is collectively higher than in the first six months after the virus was first confirmed. A robust mitigation strategy should be in place, with special focus on investment in healthcare.

Priority ought to be given to doctors who are currently overexposed to the virus. Health practitioners still lack adequate protective gear, are understaffed and lack medical cover, which means they’re on their own while being expected to be there for patients. The past week has seen eight more doctors succumb to the virus, raising concern and panic over the deadly sacrifice that doctors are being forced to make.

There are many painful lessons on how to deal with this virus. However, it seems as though none of these lessons is being taken seriously. Kenyans should be worried that the current state of health and increased exposure to Covid-19 is purely as a result of putrid leadership that stubbornly places its needs above a global health crisis.

The increased weakening of health systems that cost health practitioners their lives is the result of incompetence and greed in state corporations like Kemsa, which undermine public health.

It is reckless of the leaders to keep ignoring Covid-19 when it’s clear that Kenya is not in the clear.

okoreschea@gmail.com

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