Government initiative to strengthen COVID-19 preparedness

The Health Cabinet Secretary Hon. Mutahi Kagwe earlier in March co-chaired a consultative meeting between The Council of Governors (COG) Health Committee, the Ministry of Health and Health CECMs, convened by the COG Health Committee Chair, Governor Mohammed Kuti at the CoG Offices. The meeting was attended by Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, Uasin Gushi Governor Jackson Mandago, Deputy Governor Busia Moses Mulomi, Health PS Susan Mochache & Ag. DG Patrick Amoth deliberated on the counties preparedness to respond to the Corona virus outbreak.

The Committee held its first sitting on 1 March 2020 and briefed the national on the National Contingency response plan. The meeting with COG Health committee discussed issues on resource mobilization, establishment of County Emergency Response Committees for COVID- 19, county constituency response plans and community awareness among others.

The Ministry of Health has also engaged technology for speedy communication with the public by sending Coronavirus information via SMS. The message read, "Kenya Health Ministry will be sending info on CoronaVirus. TOLL FREE Line: 0800721316 . Before roaming, Dial *265#, DONT MISS FREE Tips. Stop*456*9*5"

Future messages will offer directions on what action to take when one suspects an infection.

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Govt increases blood donation sites to curb shortage

In March 2020, the Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Dr. Mercy Mwangangi launched a faith based blood donation drive bringing together religious denominations in the country under the theme “we are children of one God.” This unique blood donation drive 2020 is Kenya’s first inter-faith event aimed at contributing towards increasing blood availability to Kenyans who are in need of this precious commodity.

During the launch, the CAS noted that in order to increase access to blood, the Government has increased blood collection sites from 6 to 31 across 31 counties. It has also installed ultramodern testing and cold chain equipment which have been launched in Nairobi, Embu, Nakuru and Eldoret and plans are underway to instal in Mombasa and Kisumu.

The CAS revealed that for the first time, the ministry shall be procuring paediatric blood bags to curb on wastage of blood, mapping of blood donors and their blood groups which will be beneficial when sourcing for the rare blood groups and for targeted blood drives.

Dr. Mwangangi also highlighted that the Ministry shall be launching the National monthly blood donation day and a blood marathon to tap into local resources in addition to static blood donation sites at HUDUMA centres and at Post offices Centres and supermarkets. The ministry will subsequently improve Government funding to support services through the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Bill and leverage on technology to manage blood and blood products supplies.

It was further revealed that the government shall establish emergency/ disaster blood response unit with a blood buffer storage at key points and also foster partnerships with the Counties and Partners. The CAS thanked the religious leaders for coming together to organize the donate blood drive and urged the youth to join hands and embrace the culture of donating blood to save lives. She noted “This exercise contributes to improving your health as well by preventing certain diseases like blood cancers. I call upon the youth to continue the good gesture as you are our future leaders and must lead from the front towards making a real impact which might one day save the life of friend, of a loved one and possibly, your very own life”.

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CS Kagwe takes over health docket

The newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe was handed the reigns at the Ministry by the outgoing CS Sicily Karuiki at Afya House.

The CS acknowledged the challenges and the base the out going CS has set and promised to work with the ministry team to deliver health services to Kenyans. “ I am grateful for the smooth transition and I am looking forward to working with the team in a different style but working towards the same goal that is, excellent relationship between service providers and the patient,” he said.

CS Mutahi acknowledged that the Coronavirus is a global epidemic. He advised the nation not to panic and assured that the National Emergency Response Committee will work to ensure Kenyans are safe. “My priority is to implement the Executive Order No. 2 of 2020 in a structured manner to manage the issue of coronavirus,” the new CS said.

The outgoing CS Sicily Kariuki thanked the ministry staff for their cooperation and their instrumental support that has led to overall improvement in access to health.

The outgoing CS noted strategic interventions which the ministry has achieved during her tenure such as the universal health coverage (UHC) that has so far signed 44 IPAs with county governments for the national rollout of UHC. It was also during her tenure that the HPV and Malaria vaccines were launched as well as the NHIF reforms and Kemsa.

Other interventions includes the operationalization of the specialized hospitals like Othaya & Kenyatta University Teaching, Research & Referral Hospital, expansion of KMTCs to strengthen HRM, the Cuban doctors MOU and mental health task force among others.

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