It has been five months since Covid-19 entered the country. However, as Covid-19 fans out across Kenya due to reopening of once-locked down Nairobi, it is time to take stock.
New approaches are going to be needed in the second phase of this battle. The country cannot go on doing the same things and expect different results. It’s time to change tack!
Firstly, the Government needs to adopt a one-Kenya approach. Medical facilities in the epicentre of Nairobi are now under pressure. People needing hospitalisation are being sent home, ending up with severe disease. Many have subsequently died.
This is as isolation and intensive care beds remain empty in other counties. There cannot be two Kenyas. That in Nairobi, Kenyans are dying for lack of hospital space, while facilities elsewhere remain empty. It’s not a new proposal. The Machakos Governor, Alfred Mutua, was quoted recently offering to take in patients from other counties if needed.
Ministry of Health should co-ordinate this “sharing.” Use protocols based on what capacity individual counties can cede at any one time depending on their risk assessment of infections at any given period.
Further, Nairobi must return to the original seriousness in combating the pandemic. Bars have made a huge come back, the curfew has been completely ignored. Matatus are back to business as usual. And nobody seems to care. President Uhuru Kenyatta has already addressed these problems.
Counties should also adopt a regional containment strategy. Impacts of the reopening of Mombasa and Nairobi are worlds apart. Mombasa’s reopening has had minimal impact in the neighbouring counties, and its own cases are falling.
In contrast, Nairobi’s reopening has heavily impacted neighbours Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado. The difference seems to be in county preparations. While governors Amason Kingi and Salim Mvurya from Kilifi and Kwale, respectively, worked as hard as Hassan Joho in Mombasa in containment, counties neighbouring Nairobi took little action. Nairobi County itself has no Covid-19 management facilities. So, governors need to wake up and work.
Kenyans need to see where the Covid-19 billions are going. The Government has received massive resources from World Bank, the European Union and the African Development Bank, from Central Bank of Kenya, and the Treasury. Yet no investment is being pumped into management of Covid-19 and containment measures like expanded and faster testing, establishment of more treatment facilities, and contact tracing.
The Jane Karuku-led Covid-19 Fund Board collected billions and went comatose. Its work is not provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) like it seems to think. This is a prerogative of Government. It is to alleviate economic hardships of Kenyans. Kenya will not win this battle this way!
Secondly, work hard to eliminate deaths. This is manageable since only a small percentage of patients end up needing intensive care as 89 per cent of patients are asymptomatic and can be managed at home.
Using the one-Kenya approach, anybody visiting a hospital with symptoms must get tested and admitted, even if they have to get a bed in another county. A drop in deaths will dramatically alter the dynamic of this disease.
Thirdly, hospitals are behaving badly. Patients are being turned away, others mistreated and abandoned to their fate, all because they have ‘Covid-19’ symptoms. It is wrong and Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, must step in.
The Ministry must immediately ensure all medical workers in private and public hospitals are trained to handle Covid-19 patients. No patient should be abandoned or turned away. A patient with Covid-19 is a patient like any other.
So, all hospitals in Kenya must prepare adequately to handle Covid-19 patients, with isolation rooms, and personal protective equipment. This will enable them to start treating a patient even if they suspect he has Covid-19. After all, will they throw out the patient if his results come back positive?
And lastly, medical insurers must be commended for standing with Kenyans. They have agreed to pay for Covid-19 treatment, and have been doing so since March 2020.
Cities have proved to be “ground zero” the world over for the COVID-19 pandemic encouraging leaders everywhere to “rethink and reshape the urban world” as we recover.
Now is the moment to adapt to the reality of this and future pandemics in the contest of an urban world. And now is our chance to recover better, by building more resilient, inclusive and sustainable cities.
During the launching of the latest UN policy report on COVID-19 in an urban world, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted deeply rooted inequalities in the poorest areas, citing strained health systems, inadequate water and other challenges that cities are facing in common, with 90 per cent of reported coronavirus cases concentrated in urban areas.
However, the report reveals that urban density does not inevitably correlate with higher virus transmission, saying that vulnerabilities are largely a result of the choices made on how people live, work and travel, in and around them.
But cities are also home to extraordinary solidarity and resilience. Pointing to the numerous examples of strangers helping each other, streets filling with citizens showing their support for essential workers, and local businesses donating life-saving supplies, which we have seen the best of the human spirit on display.
As we respond to the pandemic and work towards recovery, we look to our cities as hubs of community, human innovation and ingenuity. In responding to the pandemic, the first line of business is to tackle inequalities and safeguard social cohesion.
We must prioritize those who are the most vulnerable in our cities, including guaranteeing safe shelter for all and emergency housing to those without homes. Noting that nearly one-quarter of the world’s urban population lives in slums, he flagged that public services in many cities require urgent attention.
Since access to water and sanitation are vital, Mr. Guterres mentioned how some local governments have stepped up, from prohibiting evictions during the crisis, to putting in place new clean water stations in the most vulnerable areas.
To support and strengthen local governments, the world’s top diplomat underscored the importance of deeper cooperation between county and national authorities. Stimulus packages and other relief should support tailored responses and boost local government capacity.
Another key policy recommendation is for cities to pursue a green, resilient and inclusive economic recovery. By embracing widescale telecommuting away from offices, it has showed that societies can transform seemingly overnight to confront urgent threats.
And, by focusing on high ecological transformation and job creation, stimulus packages can steer growth towards a low-carbon, resilient pathway and advance the Sustainable Development Goals and Vision 2030.
There are lessons that businesses can learn from the chaos that 2020 has brought – lessons that can change how organisations sustainably transform the way they engage with their work forces and approach disruption.
Lockdowns, social distancing and endless waves of uncertainty have resulted in numerous businesses undergoing rapid pivoting, stress and unexpected complexity.
2020 has also created immense opportunities for businesses that are willing to engage and adapt to this new operating environment. Those businesses that rise to the occasion will find themselves well positioned to lead in a new era of digital enterprise.
Until now, many companies have resisted investing in comprehensive remote solutions because they’ve been waiting for life to return to normal. It makes sense – in a time when budgets are tighter than ever and spending money on systems that may never be used again seems a waste.
However, as research and results reflect the benefits of working from home, and as lockdowns continue their hold on the working world, the time for waiting is over and those that hesitate may find themselves left behind.
Limited- or a complete lack of- connectivity has affected organisations’ ability to collaborate and connect with employees and customers, and this has had to rapidly change for companies to survive. Many have cobbled together inventive solutions in order to get their people online and capable of working from home.
The pandemic is unlikely to loosen its grip on remote working and social distancing for a while yet so companies need to invest in solutions that will allow them to connect and collaborate more securely and reliably for the long term.
However, even within this complexity there are several threads that stand out. One – companies need to ensure their employees are as productive as possible; and two they need to empower and enable their people because this will only benefit them in the future.”
At the end of the very long and disconnected day, people need the right tools to be effective in their jobs. They can’t work on cobbled together platforms for the foreseeable future and they need to feel that their home office is as connected and capable as their work one.
The ideal setup will allow the workforce to view their work from home environment as an extension of the larger business – almost as a branch office of their employer. This not only gets results from people in terms of performance and productivity, but it lays the groundwork for a company that’s far more agile and adaptable than ever before.
Employees have adapted to remote working, skills have been enhanced, productivity has increased, and companies have found that they can trust people to work from home, after all. While there is always going to be that one person who can’t self-motivate, on the whole, most people are working longer hours and are happier without the constraints of traffic and the office.
Early adopters of new technologies will be the drivers of change, becoming the fabric of the agile and sustainable organisation that will be capable of handling any crisis in the future. These layers of connectivity and collaboration solutions are helping create companies that are more likely to thrive in the uncertain times that lie ahead.
We envision a future where medicine will be a team sport, with humans and machines working together, and consumers playing an important role. To prepare for this, industry leaders should shift the focus of both training and the definition of physicians’ work.
As we continue recovering from the recent public health crisis and take stock of the events, we begin to think about the future and how the practice of medicine may be transformed. Physicians have been at the forefront of patient care, making challenging decisions under enormous stress and personal risk.
Scientists and public health experts many of whom are physicians have been critical to sharing emerging scientific evidence. Many clinicians face emotional strain from long hours, triaging and delaying care, and quickly adopting new approaches to keep their patients safe.
A survey that was conducted and the findings from the Deloitte 2020 Survey took place before the pandemic, it paint a picture of the future that is, if anything, more relevant to the recovery period. Respondents had an optimistic outlook on technological and scientific advances in medicine. They believe technology and new models of care can augment, not replace, physicians and help them focus on meaningful work.
To prepare for this future, health care and medical leaders should shift the focus of both training and the definition of physicians’ work: from an ability to memorize and quickly retrieve complex scientific information to even greater empathy and cultural competence; from autonomous decision-making to being team players and team leaders; from sick care to well-being and prevention; from periodic continuing medical education (CME) seminars to lifelong learning, enabled and supported by their organizations.
To set priorities for physician workforce development, we suggest that organizations “zoom out” to envision themselves 10 years from now, considering where they want to be and what kind of work outcomes, workforce, and workplace will be required to achieve that.
Then, leaders can “zoom in” to identify two or three key initiatives that they can undertake in the near future. These initiatives should aim to solve short-term problems in a way that can accelerate the progress toward long-term vision.
As organizations look to develop their current staff, bring in new people, and hire for the future, they should focus on creating an inclusive culture, developing new approaches to training and reinforcement, and redesigning CME to deliver just-in-time content in smaller and more frequent increments.
The country is on a forward trajectory, the frequencies have been fine tuned and what is being experienced now is pure clarity on the country’s development agenda. With all set out and budgeted, for, President Uhuru Kenyatta has clearly outlined and projected the country’s development path as it should be.
With a clear vision for the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta has set out the implementation of infrastructural projects that are crucial for the country towards becoming a middle-income economy. The President has brought it home to its leaders that more implementation of projects and minimal to zero politicking is what is going to catapult Kenya to the next new level as the country has the potential and the necessary resources it requires to open up the country to better infrastructure, a renewed economy and ultimately an enhancement in the livelihoods of Kenyans
From roads to railways, revival of industries and remodeling of the city no stone is being left unturned. Just recently, a section of the Nairobi Nanyuki Railway was opened up for business. Cargo trains have already started moving from Thika town to Nairobi as the rehabilitation of the section of the Railway line is now complete. With use of local labour and the National Youth Service the government is progressing steadily. Already the rehabilitation of the moribund line from Thika to Nanyuki has already began. The project covers 240 kilometres at a cost of Sh3 billion. Similarly, the old track from Nakuru to Kisumu is set to commence soon and will connect to the recently refurbished Sh3 billion Kisumu port. These projects are likely to raise the fortunes of Western Kenya as a regional economic hub.
Still on railways, the government has already floated tenders for the construction of the Nairobi Railway City project that will cost Sh27.9bn worth of investment, and will be implemented in phases. The railway will be an expansion of the Central Business District and has been set out to serve as a centerpiece to Nairobi’s growing global reputation as a modern city. With the progress that has been already seen since the inception of the Nairobi Metropolitan Service, it is clear that the Kenyans will be the witnesses of the remarkable changes the railway will bring about once works begin. The Nairobi Metropolitan Service is also a marked example of the line of thought of President Uhuru Kenyatta setting the county on course on the path of development.
Without a doubt the progress that has been made in just 100 days since its inception is a clear illustration that the country only needs a project plan, a budget and clear focus on implementation. NMS has been improve the livelihoods of Kenyans in informal sectors by digging of boreholes and improving of the infrastructure within the city. Currently, millions have been beneficiaries of free water after the NMS, ensured the drilling of boreholes to residents who initially struggled to access water within in informal settlements such as Kawangware and Mukuru Kwa Njenga.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has defined the country’s development path and implementation is now the central focus. With many already complete, including roads such as the Kitui-Kibwezi road that was done at a cost of Sh18.4 billion, the projects are set to spur socio-economic development in areas that were considered ‘closed’. Port infrastructure is on course with the completed rehabilitation of the Kisumu port. In Lamu, the Sh42 billion Lamu Port Project in Kililani is expected in December and is part of the LAPSSET project that cuts across six counties. These among other projects that reflect as a part of what the President has in mind when he told the country that it will be business unusual.
The Coronavirus will have a lasting impact on economies in both the short and long run. Whether the impact is positive or negative will be based on the actions that we take now. Our actions will make or break the Kenyan economy and the impact will be felt in the foreseeable future.
Kenya imports from China stand at $3.66 Billion in 2018, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database. These imports range from machinery, electronics, household goods, aluminum, beauty products, iron and steel amongst other products. The products range from raw materials for use to finished products for sale to the final consumer that touch in the manufacturing industry.
If these products are not moved because of the resulting quarantine measures, then the companies that depend on the raw products from China and such countries will grind to a halt. They cannot manufacture without the raw materials. There would be lost time in both machine hours and human resources.
The companies will have no goods to sell and these may lead to closures of factories and retrenchment or redundancy of staff. It also means that these companies are not able to pay taxes to the government.
Kenya relies on finished products from china including beauty products, animal vegetable and fats, clocks and watches, other electronics amongst other products. These products are evidently in the Kenya market and create cheaper options for consumers who cannot afford more expensive products. There will be unavailability of these products in the market or stock-outs.
As monies from business transactions become scarce, the default rates will increase. The shopkeeper will be poorer, the mobile loan defaults will increase and the monies we owe our family members will increase.
The hospitality sector is usually the first to feel the impact of travel restrictions. With the cancellation of flights and conferences to Kenya, these rates may not be achieved. Hotels in Kenya are currently experiencing very low occupancy rates. The result will be loss of jobs and increased unemployment, further straining the economy and the working population.
One of the Big 4 agenda is to enhance manufacturing. The government has initiated a number of key projects geared towards supporting value addition and raising the manufacturing sector’s share of GDP to 15 percent by 2022.
This creates an opportunity for the government and the citizenry to think critically and support value addition. This will reduce reliance on imports that can be manufactured in Kenya. The government should support SMEs on value-addition.
We have SMEs waiting for as much as five months for their turn to manufacture. This slows down value addition and demotivates these entrepreneurs. They are not able to make substantive business due to such arrangements.
The government should introduce a requirement of listing of Kenyan manufactured products in the local supermarkets. SMEs owners in Kenya are selling their wares in car boots, handbags and hawking them as they are not able to list them in supermarkets. It is time that the government supported the slogan of Build Kenya, Buy Kenya.
The first consumers of Kenyan products should be Kenyans themselves through the channels we have including both locally and foreign-owned supermarkets. This way there is a guaranteed market for Kenyan entrepreneurs. This will, in turn, increase their chances of access to finance both debt and equity since there is an already existing addressable market.
We need to address issues that affect SMEs and have a candid conversation with the policymakers. This is a golden opportunity that may never present itself again. If we don’t act, we shall remain a net importer for years to come.