The Kenya Covid 19 Fund and the Equity Group Foundation have jointly trained 109 local manufacturers on production of personal protective equipment (PPE) as demand surges and efforts to curb spread of the disease intensify.
Equity Group Chief Executive Dr. James Mwangi noted that Kenya was now relying on local firms to produce essential equipment such as face masks that the frontline healthcare workers tackling the coronavirus pandemic required.
Speaking at the Nakuru Level 5 Teaching and Referral Hospital where the Kenya Covid- 19 committee and the Equity Group Foundation donated PPEs to health workers Wednesday, Dr. Mwangi said sourcing the protective gear from local manufacturers had stimulated the economy and created thousands of job opportunities.
He noted that with the local manufacturers taking up the challenge and delivering on the manufactured PPE locally, Kenya had become self-reliant, cutting down on over-reliance on imported products.
“The 109 local firms have met the Kenya Bureau of Standards specifications to make the medical PPEs and community face masks. As it is, the country can produce high quality aprons, surgical face masks and safety footwear,” observed the Chief Executive.
He said the pandemic has offered the country an opportunity to harness and grow local industries, supporting existing ones to expand their capacity or incentivizing the creation of new industries that would leverage on the regional market.
Last month, and in a boost to these local manufactures, Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund chairperson Jane Karuku said they had prioritized the purchase of PPEs worth Sh600 million to support health workers in public hospitals.
Dr. Mwangi said it was tough for health workers as they were exposed to high stress levels and increased infection risks as they battled the pandemic.
“We want to help them deal with the stress as we take care of other Kenyans. All the PPEs stocks that are projected to last 18 months were manufactured locally by Kenyan firms because we believe in the Buy Kenya Build Kenya initiative,” he said.
He noted that local manufacturers have proved their worth as dependable suppliers for the much-needed kits.
County Governor Lee Kinyanjui said his administration had set aside Sh300 million in the past financial year to cushion vulnerable residents against economic shocks sparked off by Covid 19.
He said in the coming financial estimates, the County leadership had proposed a further Sh300 million to mitigate against the adverse social economic effects caused by Covid 19.
The County boss revealed that Nakuru would no longer take samples from suspected Covid-19 patients to Nairobi following approval by the devolved unit’s administration to set up three modern testing centres at its public health facilities.
The new laboratories to be constructed at the Nakuru Level 5 Teaching and Referral Hospital, Molo and Naivasha Sub-County hospitals would be funded by Kinyanjui’s administration in partnership with Amref Health Africa.
He said the new facilities would be designed to bolster testing capacity and reduce tests turnaround time. The laboratories will also be used for HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, malaria and other tests.
Each of the three laboratories which would also serve the neighbouring counties of Kericho, Laikipia, Baringo and Narok would be equipped with a capacity to test 60 to 100 samples in 24 hours.
He said the county has trained more than 600 health workers from both public and private hospitals on Covid-19 surveillance.
At the same time, residents, workers and hoteliers in Covid hotspots of Mai-Mahiu, Kikopey, Salgaa and Total have been trained on case detection, identification and reporting, personal protection and infection control.
The governor faulted some private Covid-19 testing centers for issuing inaccurate results which he said were sparking fears in parts of the county and leading to economic losses.
“We want the residents to know about Covid-19 the way they know about HIV/Aids and that is the message we are disseminating daily through community health units and public meetings among others. Private medical facilities must protect integrity of Covid-19 testing procedures,” said Mr Kinyanjui
He added that residents of all Nakuru’s 11 sub-counties were updated daily on the latest information from the World Health Organization which has declared Covid-19 a pandemic.
By Anne Mwale