[Column] Nelson Maina: Kenya should support first-line COVID 19 teams
As Kenya doubles efforts to contain the spread of Corona virus that is increasingly shutting down the world, personnel in the medical and security dockets are arguably our first lines of defence.
The painful reality of the Covid-19 pandemic as at now is the uncertainty we all find ourselves in, the rising number of those testing positive bearing witness to the frustration of dealing with a viral disease with neither a cure nor known accurate data.
The measures being put in place by the government are largely behavioral but considering human beings are rebellious by nature, certain policies have to be enforced. The dawn-to-dusk curfew and locking of hotspot counties like Nairobi and Mombasa easily come to mind. Police on patrols to ensure people are in their houses by 7pm and stay indoors up to 5am and their counterparts at the designated border roadblocks to stop movements in and out of the most affected regions require our support in terms of obeying the directives and equally important, being supported with food and supplies to make their work easier.
We aren’t making it any interesting when we play cat and mouse games trying to bypass roadblocks through panya routes to defeat directives put in place to protect both the law breakers and good citizens from spreading the virus.
This requires responsible citizens to be on the lookout to alert the law enforcement officers when these routes are used to circumvent the law. On the extreme, citizen policing becomes necessary to block anyone attempting to cross the forbiden borders. Collective ownership of the directives will in the end lead to our defeating this disease and resume normal life routine. Our policemen and women, like all of us, need protective gear like masks, gloves and sanitizers at the place of operation as well as in their homes.
It is for this reason that it becomes important to understand the need of going an extra mile to ensure they don’t worry about taking care of themselves and us by providing them with the basics. We cannot leave it to the government to do everything. This is why the few organizations and individuals that have so far extended a hand to our security agencies need a pat on the back. They have shown the way, let us see more and more of this support flowing for this is the only way we can render support to the security enforcers for the benefit of our country.
Thanks to our media houses, we have been taken on trips through the Covid-19 isolation wards, a sight that leaves one psychologically drained. If the scenes in the press suck every ounce of energy from us, think about what the job does to the medic who is handling a patient. Their lives are literary on the line as the risk of contracting the virus is real.
Doctors, nurses and other staff working in hospitals in countries with some of the most sophisticated health systems are reported to have caught the virus on the job, some sadly succumbing while trying to save lives. The Kenya Private Sector Aliance together with Elgon Kenya, Rotary International and the Kenya Flower Council have been visiting hospitals supplying flowers to the medics as a way of giving them hope in a most difficult environment.
While the bouquets have been received with wide smiles and bright faces, the recipients have pleaded for protective clothing and subsistence support to enable them fully concentrate on the task at hand. This is understandable considering the many hours put on the job, the high concentration levels and psychological trauma of caring for a patient and not knowing whether the next minute you will not be a patient of the same ailment.
These lifesavers need our moral and material support. It is therefore heartening to see the government directing for special packages for healthcare workers to boost their morale at a critical moment.
Elsewhere, companies are striving to keep going even as their staff operate from home as well as reduced capacity. Elgon Kenya has retained its 600 workers and guaranteed them their income and training on keeping the virus at bay. It is providing food rations to staff to encourage them to stay positive amidst a worrisome situation.
The rations have been extended to some security officers and Managing Director Bimal Kantaria is calling on all Kenyans with alittle to offer to join the generosity train in support to our first-line Covid-19 fighters who have a duty and a calling to keep us safe.
Together we will win this war. Let us cooperate in observing the basics- wash hands, sanitize, stay home and render a hand to those who can’t stay home to keep us safe.