Kenya’s Homegrown Solutions In The Fight Against Covid-19 Excites Citizens
A phenomenon that is sweeping across the globe, a situation that is moving so rapidly that people everywhere are wondering what can be done to stop the uninvited potentially deadly corona virus known as covid-19.
Covid-19 has spread incredibly fast and governments are taking unprecedented action by closing borders, quarantining large groups of people and rushing to develop a vaccine against the disease. Financial markets are plummeting, schools have been closed, large conferences canceled and travel advisories announced. A general unease is blanketing the world and panic is setting in as people rush to buy hand sanitizers, face masks and other items they believe could protect them from corona virus.
This is also true about the situation in Kenya which confirmed and reported her first case on 2nd March 2020. The numbers have been increasing gradually and the country is in panic as authorities seek ways to contain the spread of the virus. The situation forced the government to put in place a 7pm to 6am curfew amongst other measures; the two tier governance structure which has been in place since the promulgation of the current constitution in 2010 has seen the country’s health services devolved to county governments hence the focus on what the devolved units are doing to complement the national government’s efforts as far as the fight against the pandemic is concerned.
So far, two counties stand out in their efforts to curb the spread due to the innovative approach and out of the box thinking that has become the talk of the town. The “vox pop” or the “Man-on-the-streets” sound bytes gives an impression of citizens satisfied with the two county’s leadership at this time of crisis. The governors from Mombasa and Kitui counties continue impress wananchi (citizens) with the way they are handling the crisis and providing leadership when it matters most.
In Mombasa County, governor Ali Hasan Joho launched a sanitizing booth for ferry passengers. Passing through the booth ensures that all passengers are sprayed using a special disinfectant before they can board the ferry. The booth is a first of its kind in Kenya and was constructed and tested in two days before installation at the island side of the crossing channel. It can disinfect 12 people per minute using a locally made WHO approved solution containing antibacterial, antifungal and elements that are effective against the virus. Evolution Energy and Chemical Solutions was the firm contracted to design build the booths.
The county is also in the process of mounting Thermocameras at selected points in a bid to boost surveillance efforts. The cameras have the ability to record temperature of those captured and such information will be used to identify those with abnormally high temperature for immediate medical evaluation. Infrastructure Executive Mr Tawfiq Balala added that apart from the Thermo-cameras, the county authorities are also planning to install turnstiles at the ferry crossing to help in Keeping order and social distance.
The county has also launched an ambitious Ksh 700 million initiative that would provide nutrition support for the 227,404 vulnerable households in Mombasa. Ksh 200 million has been set aside to support the program’s initial phase.
In Kitui, the textile center KICOTEC is currently doing 30,000 pieces of face masks a day and is also a production line for the Personal Preventive Equipment (PPEs) used by frontline health workers and other staff working in close contact with those infected. Given the ever rising demand for face masks and PPE’s countrywide, the factory has filled the gap left by international importers whose own countries continue to record shortages of the same due to ballooning cases of corona virus infections.
KICOTEC humbly started as an embroidery outfit stitching uniforms, then gradually rose to prominence and in 2019 the company won a lucrative deal to tailor 6000 uniforms for the Country’s Provincial Administration officials. The pandemic has opened another door and the company has fully exploited that opportunity as their products continue to reduce the Country’s over dependence on imported face masks and PPEs.
KICOTEC staff busy working at the center
On 9th April, Kitui county governor Hon Charity Ngilu posted the following on her social media channel. ” Today I had the opportunity to present samples of PPEs and other staff uniforms made at Kitui count Textile Center (KICOTEC) for the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) to CEO Dr Evanson Kimori together with the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority KEMSA CEO Dr Jonah Manjari. Dr Evanson Kamori had the opportunity to fit on a sample uniform made for his staff by KICOTEC.
At KICOTEC we are doing everything we can to produce the necessary gear for our medical personnel who are on the front lines fighting for us and the nation during this covid-19 pandemic.
This comes in the wake of another breakthrough development of ventilators by researchers from Kenyatta University. The ventilators will be sold at Ksh 500,000 each and the institution has the capacity to produce 50 units per week. The initiative is a joint collaboration of students from Nursing, Pharmacy, Medicine and Engineering Schools; the project is led by the school of Engineering Dean Dr Shadrack Mambo and the chairman of the Chandaria Business Innovation and incubation Center where the project is hosted.
The team at Kenyatta University incubation center.
The covid-19 is turning out to be a catalyst for industrialization and self reliance since the country’s perennial donor countries seem to be overwhelmed by the virus and have little time if any and resources to share with their African counterparts. Whether they continue into the future and make a name for themselves as the country fast tracks the process of industrialization is a matter we better leave for expert analysts but for now their products continue to save one patient at a time and that is what counts.
By John Eden Omondi