Kenya: Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga Rejects COVID-19 Bill

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga has declined to assent the County Covid-19 and Highly Infectious Diseases Response Bill, 2020.

The bill seeks to create a committee to contain Covid-19 and other infectious illnesses.

The governor recommended that the bill be deferred since it did not consider fundamental constitutional and administrative principles.

LEGISLATIVE INSTRUMENTS

In a memo to the county assembly, Mr Kahiga noted that the bill had not considered other legislative measures already in place.

"The composition of the committee under the bill is non exhaustive and fails to consider other legislative instruments that allocate power to create committees like the county government Act," read the memo.

The Covid-19 bill sought to create a committee whose mandate is to deal with coronavirus and any other infectious disease.

The committee, which would be appointed by the sitting governor, is to be chaired by the county Health executive.

The committee is expected to have 10 members including the Health department director, a member of the professional umbrella body in the county, a one each from the private sector, informal sector, neighborhood association, civil society and NGO's and an association from urban areas.

CREATE PARTNERSHIPS

Other members were to include accounting officers from finance and health and a county commissioner's nominee.

The committee members were to be tasked with formulating and adopting guidelines for evaluation and accreditation of Personal Protective Equipment as well as create partnerships with private sector to provide subsidised protective.

The bill would have given public health officer power to inspect and monitor the spread and impact of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. The officer would inspect any building which is deemed a threat to health.

The governor, further said that the provisions of the bill were already incorporated in the Public Health Act as well as the Nyeri County Health Services Act.

LEGISLATION

"I implore the assembly to consider the legislation must be implemented and fit for purpose for the anticipated users. The proposed legislation does not provide clarity and certainty and hence unintended consequences," Mr Kahiga said.

Speaker John Kaguchia noted that the county government was not prepared to handle Covid-19 despite the active cases in the county.

"Nyeri County was given UHC because of being the county with the most prevalence of non-communicable diseases and we celebrated but today we are worried because Covid-19 is worse for people with underlying health conditions," he said.

"We are not prepared at all, our medical personnel have no PPEs and even the people who are quarantined lack the most basic amenities which is sad. Covid-19 is here and we are not prepared," Mr Kaguchia added.

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