As we usher in 2021, the country could once again be courting grave danger owing to ill-prepared nature to combat Covid-19 surge in the country amid shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for the frontline workers and drugs for projected tens of thousands of patients.
A new fast-spreading and not easily detectable Covid variant strain has been reported in the United Kingdom and South Africa and given the Kenya’s strategic location in Africa as a regional hub, there is every cause to worry.
The pandemic, which could conceivably have brought the country together at a time of dire catastrophic development, has instead contributed to our growing political divides underscored by divisive factions for and against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The dire situation is further aggravated by inability by the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) to supply the all-important supplies to counties owing to the ongoing corruption scandal involving supply of Sh6.3billion PPEs.
This notwithstanding, politics continue to take center stage with politicians assuming the role of virus ‘super-spreaders’ by hosting political rallies drumming up support or opposing BBI in blatant violation of the Covid-19 health protocols and guidelines.
They converge their supposed factional supporters in open rallies, churches and hosting delegations of unfortunately gullible and poor Kenyans who can barely afford quality healthcare once infected with the virus.
Deputy President William Ruto is leading the ‘NO’ brigade under the Tangatanga caucus while opposition leader, whom, seemingly absconded the cardinal oversight role against the government since the March 2018 Handshake with President Kenyatta is spearheading the unstoppable reggae narrative to push through the proposed constitutional change through BBI.
Currently, all the supplies that had been delivered and are part of the investigation are still stored at Kemsa stores regarded as ‘crime scenes’.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Kemsa senior managers have declined to procure additional materials on emergency basis over fears of victimisation, an inadvertent affirmation that government policies are manipulable by politics and not guided by structured policies.
“The tendering process at Kemsa is now online, under IFMIS. There is an undergoing investigation and our hands are tied on what we can do. We must be patient before making changes. The irregularity was for KEMSA to try and get goods without knowledge by the Ministry of Health. The other questionable issue is the issue of budget of goods procured. KEMSA board needs to be consulted for all procurements above given budget
It is not possible for us to have enough COVID-19 vaccine for everybody at once. We have a team looking into who will be vaccinated first, how to acquire, transport, store and administer the vaccine.” Kagwe said.
Similarly, due to the ongoing probe by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Eacc), the government, through Kemsa cannot buy essential medical supplies due to the ongoing corruption investigations putting millions of lives at risk including that of health professionals.
Eacc officials took all the records at Kemsa and stopped payments until the case is dispensed.
Eacc forwarded the investigation file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) Nordin Haji for review and directions.
However, Haji returned the investigation file on alleged procurement irregularities to the EACC citing areas for further investigations.
“The team identified key areas that need to be sufficiently covered by way of further investigations before a final decision can be made,” Haji said.
He continued, “Having carefully analysed the report by the team and considering the requirements for a strong and successful prosecution, I have come to the conclusion that the identified areas should be covered by the EACC.”
The DPP has further instructed his prosecution team to team with EACC in order to adequately address the identified gaps.
The DPP said his office had finalised reviewing files of alleged beneficiaries of the alleged scandal at Kemsa and upon review, it emerged that the scope of the investigations was massive.
Due to paralysed procurement process and which His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a decree should be done online to enhance transparency, insiders say essential supplies for other ailments such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, stomach ulcers, and malaria are fast running out of stock.