JAMILA’S MEMO: Ultimate responsibility for PPEs lies with CS Kagwe


JAMILA’S MEMO: Ultimate responsibility for PPEs lies with CS Kagwe
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe addresses the press on the state of the coronavirus on July 28, 2020. PHOTO | COURTESY

When COVID-19 hit our shores in March 2020, there were simple things scientists around the world shared as the recommended responses to stopping the spread of the pandemic.

One of them was washing hands, two keeping social distance and thirdly wearing a mask. By today, we all have seen a Kenyan, a neighbour, a friend, or even just a random pedestrian either walking without a mask or wearing one under the chin or on their forehead or some as a rather weird wrist band.

That is why I say in my memo, it is back to basics, because our apparent struggle with these basics, is troubling. Troubling because it has become fatal. This struggle kills. But I want to set the mask aside for a moment and talk about the personal protective equipment (PPEs).

This is the protective garment that medical workers and even public heath officials wear to protect themselves as they go about the business of responding to the pandemic and assisting those who have fallen victims to it.

In the recent days, the news is inundated with deaths of medical or frontline workers. The story of Dr. Steven Mogusu will today and for many months to come be used as a signature illustration of this needless struggle with basics.

The late Mogusu spoke about his tribulations long before his death; tribulations that he said included poor working conditions, compounded by lack of that basic called PPEs. And against the backdrop of mogusu’s cry from the grave, is the inexplicable shame of PPEs worth millions of shillings lying idle at the scandals ridden KEMSA stores.

Well, I am in media and all for accountable governance and due process. But I don’t get it when medics strike, cry and die when PPEs are lying idle at the KEMSA stores. I have attempted to understand the magic involved before the PPEs are released for use by frontline workers and I still don’t get it. And every time I struggle with it or indeed millions of Kenyans out there join the same struggle, time is lost and unfortunately lives are lost too.

The tussle between KEMSA and the Ministry of Health over the authority to release the PPEs is quite frankly a national embarrassment and if strictly put against the number of lives lost during the banter, KEMSA and the ministry have blood on their hands. One PPE late is potentially one life lost.

A murder link can be drawn here, between the grave of an innocent medical worker, a bureaucrat’s desk at the Ministry of Health and footprints all the way to the KEMSA stores. Which is why today in my memo I lay it straight on the feet of Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, the overall head of the health docket in the Republic of Kenya; Mr minister speak clearly. The ultimate responsibility rests on you… and that is my memo.

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Story By Jamila Mohamed
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