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A Lab technician at one of the hospitals in Nairobi. Kenya had recorded four deaths and 122 positive cases of coronavirus by April 3, 2020.

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Raila roots for reforms in Kenya’s health sector, and across Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 26 – African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development Raila Odinga says Kenya’s health sector is more than ever exposed, as the donor community channel resources to their own needs in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

It is a pandemic that has so far claimed more than 1,200 people in Africa, including 14 in Kenya where 343 people had been infected by April 25.

Odinga, who is also the Orange Democratic Movement leader, said Kenya must start questioning the dominance of US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention unit and instead allow its equivalent in the country to fill in the vacuum.

In a series of tweets Sunday, Odinga said institutions like the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) should be strengthened, to ensure they are more independent.

“ How to ensure everyone is able to pay for healthcare in a situation where one mismanaged infection can bring down a nation is a matter Africa must confront with urgency,” he asserted.

Odinga said there is need for a review on the current domination of Kenya’s and the continent’s healthcare by donors in terms of funding and agenda-setting.

“Let’s question the dominance of US CDC over KEMRI and its equivalents in Africa and seek ways to make these institutions independent, more attuned to Africa’s needs,” the former Prime Minister said.

“When donors are overwhelmed in their own countries as is the case now, we are left badly exposed. Kenyatta University students have challenged us that with encouragement from government and private sector, innovation for healthcare can be done here, by us,” he said of a recent innovation by a group of students at the university who came up with ventilators.

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