Lockdown too expensive for Kenya, says Oparanya

The government will require 182 billion shillings to feed vulnerable Kenyans for 90 days incase a total lockdown is imposed.

According a report drafted by the national coordinating committee on Covid-19, the funds will be used to buy and deliver food items to poor Kenyans in both rural and urban centers.

The Council of Governors Chair and a member of the committee Wycliffe Oparanya said the vulnerable have already been mapped out by administration officers in counties in conjunction with Nyumba Kumi cluster members.

According to the Central Bank, Kenya’s official dollar reserves stands at 8.6 billion dollars, enough to cover imports for the country for 6 months.

Oparanya who spoke to KBC on the impact of Covid_19 disease on the economy says, based on the financial position of the Country, the committee has advised the National Security Council against imposing a total lockdown on the country.

On 6th of April, President Uhuru Kenyatta placed the counties of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale on partial lockdown, limiting movements of people in these Counties.

The four devolved units accounts for close to 95 percent of all reported Covid-19 cases.

Experts believe limiting movement of people in this counties, will help arrest the spread of the pandemic which continues to ravage the global economy and shuttering businesses.

Oparanya warned that if the situations worsens Nairobi and Mombasa counties will be locked down totally.

The two Counties generate almost 60 percent of the Kenya’s output annually.

According to the national census report announced last year by the Kenya national bureau of statistics, Nairobi has a population of 4.4 million residents, while Mombasa has 1.3 million residents.

The Council of Governors chair says in an effort to fight the spread of the virus, the government has deployed to Counties, an additional 3000 staff under Universal Health Care and 5,500 others are currently being recruited.

They consist of nurses, clinicians, lab technicians among others.

However shortage of funds is likely to hinder the employment of more health expertise unless Treasury lifts a lid on hiring budget at the county level.

Counties are not supposed to spend more than 30% of their revenue on recurrent expenditure, though some continue to breach the figure by a big margin.

“County governments have to restructure their budgets and re-direct funds meant for other projects in health care which is the most crucial issue we are facing as a nation at the moment,” said Oparanya.

Another challenge facing the counties, is the poor state of the health sector, As at 18 July 2019 the number of operational health facilities managed by the devolved units was 11,990, however most of them offers first aid services and are not well suited to deal with Covid-19 kind of a crisis.

Last year Counties spent 20% of their revenue on the health sector.

Out of the 47 counties, less than 15 have intensive care beds to admit critically ill patients and almost 79 percent of them lack the services of resident specialist doctors.

However Oparanya says poor work environment has affected the morale of health workers.

He emphasised the need to motivate health workers citing improvement of working environment, equipment, uniform, personal protective equipment, timely payments of salaries among others.

The County healthcare system is faced by a myriad of challenges like lack of proper working tools leading to persistent industrial strikes by health workers.




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