KEPSA CEO Carole Karuga with KEPSA Head of Policy Research & Analysis and Public-Private Dialogue Victor Ogalo. www.businesstoday.co.ke
KEPSA CEO Carole Karuga with KEPSA Head of Policy Research & Analysis and Public-Private Dialogue Victor Ogalo during a previous press conference. The alliance wants the government to scale up its COVID-19 response amid strike threats by medical proffesionals. [Photo/KEPSA]

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) has voiced its concern over the welfare of frontline healthcare workers deployed to combat COVID-19 ahead of what appears to be a second wave of the virus, calling on the government to immediately focus its attention to ensure that medical practitioners have the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to do their work effectively and that public hospitals are well equipped.

In a statement issued to newsrooms on Friday, KEPSA Chief Executive Carol Karuga said the government ought to draw lessons from the country’s experiences battling the virus during the first wave.

As it stands, Kenya has confirmed 74,145 cases of COVID-19, 1,330 deaths, and 50,658 recoveries even as medical practitioners continue to protest over lack of PPEs and poor working conditions in the middle of a pandemic.

Below is KEPSA’s Full Statement

This year has seen Kenya undergo the first wave of COVID-19, which brought with it losses of lives and livelihoods, and also badly affected the economy.

The Kenyan private sector joins Kenyans in condoling and empathizing with those who have been left devastated by this first wave. We will continue working with fellow Kenyans to support those who have been so badly impacted.

KEPSA has engaged its members and the government in combating COVID-19 over last 8 months by offering policy interventions and private donations.

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We want to preserve the gains made throughout this process. Already, the private sector has ramped up production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, sanitizers and other vital supplies.

The unexpected but very welcome benefits of this manufacturing initiative are increased linkages between large corporates and SMEs.

According to the Ministry of Health, the country is now well into COVID-19’s surge of infections and a worrying increase of deaths. Kenya’s private sector is alive to the potential for even more devastation, and once more we commit to working with fellow Kenyans to minimize the impact of this pandemic.

As we experience an increase in the numbers of people infected by Covid-19, the country must also reflect upon and apply lessons from the first wave. It would be irresponsible, unconscionable and unacceptable for us not to do so. We appreciate the government’s vigorous efforts in leading the fight against COVID-19, and fully support these efforts.

However, we urge government to urgently and immediately respond to the increasing numbers of infections by working towards seeing the release of more PPE’s to the frontline workers.

The first lesson is the absolutely critical need to secure and support our medical fraternity, who have been and remain at the forefront of our countrywide efforts to stem the tide of COVID-19 and putting their own lives in harm’s way.

One of the persistent complaints from medical personnel has been about the lack of PPE.

KEPSA

It is imperative that the Government organize the delivery of PPE to medical personnel consistently and efficiently.

At the beginning of the Pandemic, Government was quick to organise the release of seized ethanol to Kenya Pipeline Company, who then went ahead to oversee the manufacture and distribution of 1.5 million litres of free sanitisers to needy Kenyans.

We urge a similar sense of urgency and decisiveness to be adopted towards the release and distribution of PPE and other equipment by the Ministry of Health directly or through its agencies.

Next is the urgent need to raise the standards of our public and private health facilities. Combating Covid requires well-staffed and well-equipped hospitals to save lives.

Sadly, we see glaring gaps in hospitals’ readiness across the Republic. With the rare exceptions on testing kits and vaccines, all the required products are in the country, but the supply chain is restricted by lack of funding or release of existing funding.

We call for an urgent stock-taking of all Level 3, 4 and 5 hospitals and for the government to prioritize funding for County health facilities over any other expense, and ensure payments to genuine suppliers, many of whom are owed millions for months.

 Our elected leaders need not fear to be treated in their own County hospitals if they play their oversight role better and being more accountable in making sure hospitals are well-equipped and staffed by qualified medical workers.

The reaction of some leaders in calling for special treatment to be treated for COVID-19 completely misses the point.

COVID-19 knows neither rank nor privilege and has shown us that we must raise the standards of healthcare provision for all Kenyans, which in turn calls for prudent and transparent use of resources.

The Private Sector is not blameless in propagating corruption in government procurement.

KEPSA will continue being on the lookout for corrupt practices by its members, and we are willing to be held to account. KEPSA fully supports Government action in cracking down on corruption.

Finally, we all must embrace behaviour change. These are unusual times. We know what we  have to do. Wear masks when in public, or with others. Keep safe social distance of one and half to two meters.

Wash your hands frequently or sanitise. Work remotely where possible. Minimise public gatherings. Adhere to all protocols.

KEPSA remains committed to working with the Government, and with all Kenyans, in combating this devastating pandemic.

See Also>>>>Covid-19 Vaccine Trials Begin in Kenya

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About the Author

Samuel Gitonga is a senior reporter at BUSINESS TODAY. Email: [email protected]

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