As Kenya is ravaged by a 3rd wave of infections and deaths, the federal government has instituted a partial lockdown to try to restrict the unfold of the virus. It has vowed to ramp up vaccinations, aiming to have no less than 16 million individuals inoculated by June subsequent 12 months.
Nonetheless, the rollout of Kenya’s COVID-19 vaccination programme has been, not unexpectedly, hampered by outright dishonest, confusion and profiteering.
A lot of the worldwide angst about equitable entry to COVID-19 vaccines has targeted on “vaccine nationalism” or the hogging of vaccine provides by Western international locations on the expense of poorer populations in a lot of the remainder of the world. This has predictably led not simply to a scarcity of provides throughout the richer states, together with members of the European Union, however crucially, it has meant that entry stays a mirage for poorer international locations additional downstream.
Escaping scrutiny is the query of what governments resembling Kenya’s are doing with the few provides they’ll scrounge, beg or purchase. The Kenyan authorities’s strategy to the pandemic has been characterised by poorly thought out, brutally enforced lockdowns that regard Kenyans as problematic kids to be crushed into submission, not residents to be persuaded and consulted.
The strategy has had restricted success and, coupled with public disregard of the measures by senior officers, together with President Uhuru Kenyatta himself, has as a substitute aroused widespread resistance to authorities impositions which have taken little account of individuals’s circumstances and wishes.
It has additionally turned out to be a money cow for politically related “tenderpreneurs” who’ve shortly established firms for the only objective of stealing among the $71m allotted to purchase emergency private protecting gear for healthcare staff and hospitals throughout the nation.
In Kenya, politicians and their enterprise buddies not often waste a disaster. For instance, in 2008, because the nation confronted hunger following the disruption brought on by the post-election violence they’d instigated, elected officers bought collectively to hatch a subsidy scheme that funnelled public money to their pockets whereas 1 / 4 of the nation starved.
The identical destiny has now befallen the vaccine rollout. The plan outlined by the Ministry of Well being concerned three phases, the final two of which had been to run concurrently. In part one, between February and June 2021, 1.25 million well being staff, safety and immigration officers could be vaccinated. In phases two and three, from July 2021 to June 2022, almost 10 million over-50s and over-18s with underlying well being situations and 5 million of these thought of susceptible, resembling these in casual settlements, could be immunised.
Nonetheless, the plan fell aside nearly as quickly as its rollout started. Politicians loudly and self-servingly argued that they need to be given precedence to encourage confidence among the many inhabitants, although the Ministry of Well being was reporting encountering little resistance. As a result of the state had ignored the necessity to clarify its plan to the inhabitants, there was widespread confusion about the place and when individuals had been anticipated to be in line.
Quickly the elite, together with politicians, captains of enterprise, authorities officers and even journalists, had been flooding social media with tales of their queue-jumping exploits and experiences, protected within the impunity that has at all times shielded them from accountability. This – as their elders endured lengthy strains following a last-minute authorities choice to fast-track part two in recognition of the third wave.
Even worse, an unseemly struggle broke out between tenderpreneurs linked to totally different factions throughout the authorities pushing totally different vaccines. Whereas one faction backs the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which was being rolled out, one other has procured Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and begun to distribute it utilizing non-public amenities.
The state has now banned the non-public importation of vaccines, arguing that it’s safeguarding in opposition to counterfeits. Although that may be a hazard that shouldn’t be discounted, there has not been a suggestion that what was out there was faux. Additional, quite than tighten its regulatory regime, the state is throwing out the child with the bathwater, additional lowering, quite than increasing, the inventory of vaccines accessible to the inhabitants.
A lot of this might have been averted if the Kenyan authorities and its international companions, together with the World Well being Group and Western governments, handled Kenyans as companions within the rollout quite than colonial topics to be brutalised and exploited. Sadly for Kenyans, their colonial state doesn’t know how you can act any in a different way.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.