How LREB counties responded to surge in Covid-19 infections

Between May 9 and July 10, the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) witnessed a surge of Delta variant Covid-19 infections. The situation looked grim. 

LREB comprises counties of Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisumu, Kisii, Migori, Nyamira, Nandi, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga.

At that period, LREB reported 31,413 cases and 1,002 fatalities cumulatively. We had 2,870 isolation beds and 137 ICU beds occupied by 364 and 57 patients respectively. An apocalypse stared us in the face, but we refused to crack.

What did we do? As devolved governments, our relations are governed by six Cs cascaded in legislations related to devolution. These six Cs are consultation, cooperation, collaboration, coordination, concurrence, and consensus.

As regional governors we observed all these six Cs when making decisions to respond to the invincible variant.

Mid last year we formed LREB Committee of Eminent Persons chaired by Prof Kama Rogo. The committee provides periodic advisories, external networking, resource mobilisation, innovation, data analysis and modelling. The team gives a clear picture of Covid-19 status and recommends response.

The committee underscored that schools must be safe for learners and teachers. The innovative idea of Adopt a School Initiative was born where locals, alumni, corporates, and businesspersons provided necessary materials for non-pharmaceutical interventions to mitigate spread of Covid-19 in schools.

Many schools have benefited from masks, water tanks, liquid soap, and Covid-19 management education. The regional leadership held a consultative meeting with the national government to build consensus on additional restrictions to mitigate spread of the variant.

County teams and local FM stations were used to educate the community on public health protocols. The Eminent Committee in consultation with governors, also identified gaps against the fight which include inadequate testing capacity, under-staffing in health facilities, insufficient supplementary medical oxygen, border surveillance, coordination, medical supplies and equipment. The region is working with stakeholders to implement recommendations of the report. While we recognise the fight against Covid-19 is far from over, we have made tremendous progress using strict, intensive and coordinated application of public health guidelines.

The writer is Kakamega Governor and Chairman Lake Region Economic Bloc.

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