Kenya: Counties Asked to Partner to Improve COVID-19 Preparedness

Health officials in protective clothes bury the body of Anthony Waswa on May 19.

Counties have been asked to seek as many partnerships as possible to intensify their preparedness to handle the coronavirus pandemic owing to the surge in local transmissions of the disease.

Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti, who is also the Council of Governors Health Committee chairman, said with the disease reported in over 35 counties, the devolved units ensure requisite measures are put in place to prevent further spread of the pandemic.

Mr Kuti directed counties to ensure mandatory screening of all visitors getting into their respective areas and also intensify public sensitisation campaigns to ensure compliance with the health protocols on observing personal hygiene, social distancing and wearing of face masks.

"With the disease spreading so fast locally, the responsibility now rests with the counties which should seek partnerships and do everything possible to up their game in addressing the pandemic," said Mr Kuti.

ISOLATION BEDS

The counties, he said, must also expeditiously comply with the government's 300 isolation bed capacity, train as many health workers as possible and ensure residents are well informed of the disease.

The Isiolo governor lamented over lack of enough testing kits in counties already accredited to carry out the tests. He asked the government to speed up their distribution so that mass testing is rolled out.

"Samples sent to Nairobi are taking long before the results are sent back which continues to expose people at the quarantine centres to more suffering as they will on some occasions be required to stay at the centres for over 14 days," the governor said.

The Isiolo Referral Hospital state-of-the-art biosafety lab that was recently accredited to carry out coronavirus tests is not operational due to lack of kits and reagents.

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

Mr Kuti complained that many Kenyans have drastically relaxed on observing the required health guidelines, saying the disease cannot be contained if all do not take personal responsibility.

The governor said his administration has put in place the requisite measures to stem the spread of the disease including the mandatory screening and biodata collection for visitors from other counties and installation of sanitisation booths for disinfection at Isiolo town markets and outside the referral hospital gate.

He said Isiolo is among the leading counties in training of health workers on how to manage the pandemic, noting that 523 had so far been trained.

Also trained are 703 community health volunteers, 239 nurses, 51 clinical officers and 33 lab technicians.

The county has also distributed over 50, 00 face masks, 5,000 litres of chlorine for fumigation and 5,000 hand sanitisers, assorted food items and medical supplies to flood hit areas especially Iresaboru.

Mr Kuti reiterated his government's commitment to empower the health volunteers to assist in contact tracing and management of the disease at the village level.

The county has, in partnership with various donors, distributed over 500 hand washing facilities across the region.

But the county is grappling with inadequate medical supplies at isolation centres and lack of appropriate masks for health workers in high risk areas, a Covid-19 preparedness report shows.

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