People's Vaccine Kenya
People's Vaccine Kenya
Today marks one year since the first positive COVID-19 case was reported in Kenya.
Since then we have had over 110,000 infections, over 1900 fatalities and most visibly the deepening inequality gap where the majority of Kenyans have been further plunged into poverty and unemployment. As of now, national leadership is imperatively needed across the country to demonstrate commitment and ensure social, economic and health protection for every Kenyan and rapidly work to contain the virus that is proceeding to what the Ministry of Health has classified as “wave 3” of the pandemic.
For the past one year, Kenyans have been met with denial of public health services, forceful evictions, increased violence and lack of testing capacities among other state-sanctioned injustices. It has further taken a pandemic to expose the failings of the Kenyan government and management of treasury to observe the commitment they made when they signed the Abuja declaration pledging to allocate at least 15% of the annual national budget to health, we have seen the erroneous undermining of public health, whereas government only allocated 1.59 billion to health which is lower than the pre-COVID19 pandemic health budget.
One year later, public health continues to hang by such a precarious thread and the interests of Kenyans are largely undermined. Currently, the critical and desperate solution in sight is the COVID-19 vaccine that will allow rapid containment of the virus and minimize the rate of infection. Thereto, it is an utmost priority to ensure that every Kenyan is able to access a safe, effective and free COVID-19 vaccine. This is not just a moral imperative, but also an economic and social responsibility that will allow the resumption of a post-COVID nation-building process that includes reduction of unemployment, restoration of our already devastated economy, keeping our children in schools and all the efforts to reverse the wanton ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To achieve this, we urge the national government to ensure the following requests to ensure sustainable recovery:
1. The immediate initiation of policies that will allow for the implementation and execution of safe, free and accessible covid-19 vaccination that will be available to all people within Kenya. These include all refugees within refugee camps, all patients within mental health facilities and rehabilitation centres, all people seeking asylum or are undocumented who express interest in accessing the vaccine and all prisoners and those held within police detention.
2. The immediate negotiation, procurement and additional accumulation of national vaccines that will ensure the vaccination of at least 35% of the population by December 2021.
3. The immediate cancellation and condemnation of all political rallies, events and gatherings that may result in super-spread of the virus.
4. The immediate cancellation of medical payment of covid-19 related treatments and cancellation of any medical debts owed by Kenyans in public hospitals and health facilities to ensure capacity and accessible healthcare attention to all Kenyans.
5. The immediate order of a statutory public health inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic by President Kenyatta, to minimize the chance of further loss of life and ensure justice for the families of the bereaved.
We do hope that these requests will be taken into consideration and further executed. As of now, the key national interest is to ensure the containment of the virus and stabilization of the country, its economy and Kenyan lives. This can only be attained if the government regards public opinion and considers centre-ground consultation rather than executing policy by decree.
Only united and collaborative efforts can yield solid outcomes for all.
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