Kenya has been devastated by a third wave of infections and deaths, so the government has introduced a partial lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. It has promised to ramp up vaccinations to at least 1 million people by June next year.
However, the rollout of Kenya’s Kovid-19 vaccination program has not been unexpected, but has been hampered by complete deception, confusion and profitability.
Much of the international activity on equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines has focused on the costs of the world’s poorest people to “vaccine nationalism” or the supply of vaccines to Western countries. This probably does not lead to a shortage of supplies between rich states, including members of the European Union, but importantly, it means the mirage remains for even lower flows to poorer countries.
The question is what governments like Kenya are doing with the amount of supplies they can provide, beg or buy. The Kenyan government’s approach to the epidemic has been characterized by weakly thought-out, ruthlessly enforced lockdowns that Kenyans have deemed to subdue troubled children, not to persuade and consult citizens.
This approach had limited success and, instead of ignoring the public against the steps taken by senior officials, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, has developed widespread resistance to government pressure that takes little account of the situation and needs of the people.
It has become a cash cow for politically connected “tenderers” who have quickly set up agencies with the sole purpose of stealing some m 71 million allocated for the purchase of emergency personal protective equipment for health workers and hospitals across the country.
Politicians and their business friends in Kenya rarely spoil a crisis. In 2007, for example, when the country was starving after they were provoked by post-election violence, elected officials came together to create a subsidy scheme that returned people’s cash into their pockets, when a quarter of the country was starving.
The same fate now surrounds the vaccine rollout. The plan provided by the Ministry of Health involved three phases, two of which were run simultaneously. In the first phase, between February and June 2021, 1.25 million health workers, security and immigration officials will be vaccinated. From July 2021 to June 2022, about 10 million over-50s and over 18s with underlying health conditions in two and three phases and five million vaccines will be given to those considered vulnerable in informal settlements.
However, the plan fell apart almost as soon as the rollout began. Politicians argued loudly and self-servingly that they should be given priority in building trust among the people, although the Ministry of Health faced little resistance. Since the state ignored the need to explain its plan to the public, there was widespread confusion about where and when people were expected to get the line.
Soon politicians, business captains, government officials and even journalists were flooded with stories of their elite exploits and experiences on social media, a responsibility that has always kept them from being held accountable – the end of the second fast-tracking government Their seniors have endured long lines after the moment’s decision.
More frighteningly, an uncontrollable war broke out between tender lovers involving different parties within the government, pushing for different vaccines. One group is supporting the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that was launched, while Russia has collected the Sputnik V vaccine and started distributing it using private facilities.
The state has now banned private imports of vaccines, arguing that it is protecting against counterfeiting. While this is a risk that should not be discounted, there was no suggestion that what was on the market was fake. Moreover, instead of tightening its regulatory system, the state is throwing out infants with bath water, further reducing rather than expanding the stock of vaccines accessible to the population.
Most of this could have been avoided if the Kenyan government, including the Kenyan government and the World Health Organization and Western governments, had considered Kenyan colonialism as a partner in colonial affairs rather than brutal and exploitative. Sadly for the people of Kenya, their ial colonial state does not know how to behave any differently.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the author and his editorial position on Al Jazeera.