An International Centre of Excellence in Public Policy and Research

Kenya’s Potential to Contain the Effects 0f COVID-19 and to Put the Economy Back on Track to Enhance the Feasibility of the Big Four Agenda

The Big Four Agenda is an accelerated five-year development plan designed to fast-track the realization of the country’s vision 2030. The plan has been fostered by H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta who has promised to dedicate energy and resources to ensure that the agenda materializes before he exits office in 2022.  The agenda has four key pillars which include; Food Security and Nutrition, Manufacturing, Universal Health Coverage and Affordable Housing.

Effects of COVID-19

On 13th of March 2020, the first case of The COVID 19 pandemic was confirmed by the Ministry of Health in Nairobi. Since then, there has been a long chain of infections all over the country as a result of which the big four agenda has become a great mountain to surmount. However, COVID 19’s effects have been by a great deal reduced by the vaccinations being conducted in health centers nationwide and the preventive measures that citizens are obliged to observe. Time has therefore come again when it is imperative for the national government of President Uhuru Kenyatta to redirect its focus on the feasibility of the big four agenda before 2022. This may not be easy especially since most of the country’s resources that could have been used to achieve the big four agenda were used in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Potentials in Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage is a program that is aimed at ensuring that all persons in Kenya will be able to use essential services they need for their wellbeing through a single unified benefit package, without the risk of financial catastrophe[1]. The government has made a tremendous step in achieving this through the National Hospital Insurance Fund that has been granted the mandate to provide accessible, affordable, sustainable and quality health insurance for all citizens.

Areas of Intervention

However, there is still more to be done and this will include, first and foremost, making health facilities accessible both in the rural and urban regions so that citizens living in the rural will not have to necessarily incur extra expenses in travelling to the urban in search of better health services. However, where the installation of certain medical equipment in the rural areas is expensive, it would be absolutely necessary to make easy the accessibility of the ones in the urban areas. By so doing, the national government would be compelled to integrate transport to and from the urban areas since infrastructural development forms one among the enablers of the big four agenda. An exquisite infrastructural development will as well enhance swift movement of medical experts based in urban premises in response to emergencies in rural locations.

It has hit the headlines severally that during major rainy seasons, certain hospital especially in the rural areas become inaccessible as result of floods and some parents have even been found in situations where they have to deliver their newborn in a boat because they cannot reach hospital in time. This could be corrected by a Presidential intervention to complete the major infrastructural projects so that patients all over the country can have a 24-hour access to medical facilities. Only then can the government contemplate to make the big four agenda feasible by 2022.

However, there has been an increase in corruption cases all over the country especially affecting the Ministry of Health as a result of which Universal Health Coverage has been slowed down. It has been noted in several cases that officials employed by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority have been involved in money laundering scandals which have not only slowed down developments aimed at fighting COVID 19 but also slowed down the economy by a great deal. By fighting corruption and increasing accountability especially in the Ministry of Health, the government of President will have made a profound impact on the achievement of the big four agenda as well as containing the effects of COVID 19 and ultimately putting the economy back on track.

Moreover, the government should put more effort in leveraging technology and innovation so as to improve government services in the health sector. This should be targeted at making efficient the communication between hospitals and patients on a 24-hour basis. A leveraged technological system all over the country is as to ensure effective communications on the advancement of COVID 19 as well as to urge the citizens to observe the containment measures outlined by the Ministry of Health. However, this cannot be achieved without having in mind the energy demands of all these services. There therefore has to be reliable and affordable energy which can as well be accompanied by effective telecommunication services from network service providers such as Safaricom, so that patients suffering from any infections, COVID 19 included, can be attended to promptly.

To conclude, Kenya surely has the potential to contain the effects of COVID 19 and to put back the economy on track to enhance the feasibility of the big four agenda by 2022 but this can only happen if the above mentioned issued are first dealt with appropriately.

By Felix Eugene Ochieng, a student at Kabarak University

[1] Dr. E Wangia & Dr. C Kandie, Refocusing on quality of health care and increasing demand for services; Essential elements in attaining universal health coverage in Kenya 2019

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