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Covid-19 triggered best response from counties

After the first Covid-19 case in Kenya on March 13, 2020, the national and county governments responded quickly to curb the spread of the pandemic. This was through the National Coordination Committee on the Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic (NCCRCP).

Strict containment measures, such as curfews, lockdowns and cessation of local and international travel were instituted. A dark cloud hung over the nation, and it continues to do so, with every sector of the economy adversely affected.

Counties started to record a drop in critical health indicators, including low immunisation rates in children under five years and reduced access to healthcare as patients avoided hospitals for fear of infection.

However, despite the negative impacts, the last year has witnessed institutions rethink and re-strategise to adjust to the new normal. John F Kennedy once said, ‘when written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.

For some Kenyans, the Covid-19 period has pushed them into innovation and invention. With county governments being the largest providers of public healthcare services, it was inevitable that they needed to remodel their programmes to cope. Kitui County, through the Kitui County Textile Centre, started to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and masks. Kitui donated masks to other counties experiencing shortages.

With cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) increasing during the pandemic period, Mombasa County reached out to its partners within the County GBV Technical Working Group (TWG) and together they created a toll-free calling and SMS line to support victims.

Homa Bay County enhanced timely interventions and achieved a 300 hospital bed capacity by August 2020. Kajiado County, in partnership with a private communications company, adopted M-Riziki, a web and mobile-enabled feature that facilitates a seamless flow of relief food from donors to beneficiaries.

Machakos County converted the Kenyatta Stadium into a temporary hospital for mass testing and isolation.

Doctors at the Kericho County Referral Hospital came up with an ingenious solution to use CT scans to determine the status of suspected Covid-19 patients. Lamu County used a town crier on a donkey to inform the community on Covid-19 mitigation measures.

Kisumu County held roadshows and radio talk shows that saw the positive cases reduce to 10 in December 2020 and 2 in January 2021.

Ms Mwiti is acting CEO and Ms Njaramba is Head of Planning Unit at the CoG.  

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