The government has rubbished claims that the locally produced Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) have not reached global standards.
“The PPEs have been critically scrutinized by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and we can confirm we have the best,” said Jane Karuku, the chairperson Covid-19 Emergency Response Committee.
Speaking during a tour at the Industrial area based Manchester Outfitters Limited, the chairperson who is also the Kenya Breweries Managing Director dispelled fears over the quality of the equipment urging Kenyans to support their own capacity.
“Doctors, love these. We like them because we have made them by ourselves. Let us buy Kenya to promote Kenya. I know for sure that we will get better with time,” added Karuku.
Karuku also said that slum dwellers who are part of the mostly vulnerable communities will soon receive free face masks, as a way of providing personal protective Equipment to those living in abject poverty in the community. Students will also benefit.
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Further, the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund Board chairperson also noted that the industries charged with processing the manufacturing of the PPEs have doubled their efforts and that the PPEs would be available in coming weeks.
“Once the PPEs are ready we will supply them to vulnerable members of the society to help them fight Covid-19. School going children will also receive two masks each when they report to school in September this year,” said Jane Karuku.
She also reiterated that the board is making sure that all local manufacturers tasked with the production meet the set standards required for safe equipment, used by both the common people and the health workers.
“The board is impressed at the workmanship and production quality for the PPEs ordered, and we remain optimistic that we shall commence delivery to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority by the end of next week,” Karuku said.
The equipment include protective goggles, gowns, examination gloves, surgical and respirator masks among other paraphernalia used in combatting the deadly virus.
The efforts are part of the government’s plan to promote local manufacturing to build capacity within the country. President Uhuru Kenyatta had outlined this as part of the projects to promote local productions in his big four agenda.
In his Madaraka Day celebration speech, the President urged Kenyans to believe in their capacity and promote the locally made products to stop importation of the basic commodities. He has also been seen in many occasions putting on locally made shirts.
“We are convinced as a government that use of local labour and locally sourced construction materials will support micro and small businesses,” he said.
The head of State’s sentiments were echoed by the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe who also noted that the government would not import any more PPEs.
"The PPEs that are manufactured locally are superior to the PPEs that were being imported before. Our local manufacturers are now able to produce better quality PPEs… we now have capacity to make approved masks in the country, “said Kagwe.
He also added that the production of the equipment would be supervised under strict scrutiny to ensure the right quality and quantity is achieved.
"We are not going to allow our doctors to be exposed. We will not accept any materials that the doctors themselves are not comfortable with. So people will not just come with any type of PPEs and expect us to accept", he observed.
The Manufacturers have now been on toes to make sure they achieve the set parameters proposed by the Kenya Bureau of Statistics (KEBS).
“We work hard to make sure we deliver the right quality and quantity we expect to have for the masks, aprons and other equipment used during coronavirus crisis, ” said Rajesh Galot, the Executive Director at Manchester Outfitters Limited (MOL).
Rajesh says the company has been able to recall its staff to work, after suspending thousands three months ago, due to Covid-19 effects.
“We have focused more on women, by making sure over 70 per cent of our workers are ladies who are struggling to make ends meet and to provide for their families. These are hard hit by the Covid-19 reality,” he noted.
MOL is one of the companies which was commissioned by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) to produce the PPEs in the country.
Under the list the industries, the association has seven more firms as the manufacturers of non-woven fabrics and additional ten under those that manufacture the woven and knitted fabrics.
Nevertheless, the list is being reviewed with time with new teams coming on board to achieve the targets as per the production goals.
The Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund Board members are drawn from giant companies in the country.
They include, Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph, Equity Group chief executive James Mwangi, Dr Narenda Raval, KCB CEO Joshua Oigara and Absa Bank Kenya PLC managing director Jeremy Awori. Others are Mohammed Hersi and Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers CEO Phyllis Wakiaga and other representatives from Equity Group Foundation on Thursday visited Texplast in Kikuyu, and Alpha Knits, both in Kiambu county, and Manchester Outfitters in Nairobi county.
Today the team is making stops in Kitui County, at Kitui CountyTextile Center (KICOTEC) and Shona EPZ near Athi River town. The visits are to ensure the companies were working in stipulated timelines and delivery schedules.
Kenya's COVID-19 Fund started its operations in April and has raised more than Sh 3.4 billion to support medical facilities, welfare and social livelihood interventions such as food relief.
President Uhuru had put in place the 10-member emergency committee to bolster the country’s counterforts against coronavirus.
“The principal object of the fund shall be to mobilize resources for emergency response towards containing the spread, effects, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Head of State outlined.
The President board has now been operational since early April and has marshaled donations from public and private entities.
“The seed capital of the fund shall be drawn from the exchequer including the voluntary salary cuts undertaken by the senior ranks of the Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, and County governments,” he added.