By Kenyan journalist Lilian Mukoche, first published in TalkAfrica.
Mombasa County has been in the limelight for good reasons since the first case of COVID -19 was reported in Kenya. The county Government under the leadership of Governor Hassan Joho has kept Kenyans talking and admiring how the Governor is leading in the battle against COVID-19.
COVID-19 spraying booths, huge water tanks with attached hand-washing taps as well as COVID-19 sample taking booths spotted in almost every corner of Mombasa county are just a few indicators that the county is seriously fighting the pandemic within its midst.
The ever-vibrant Jomo Kenyatta Public beach and the newly renovated Mama Ngina Water Front are currently empty recreational areas, following the directives to keep out of public places to curb the spread of the virus which knows no boundaries.
Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho stole the show among all the 47 governors in the country in curbing the spread of the virus by equipping all public medical facilities within the county with all necessary equipment.
“There is a lot of goodwill from friends locally and internationally to help us fight this virus. This fight requires collective efforts and as a county, we continue to do all that we can to help our people and support implementation of the guidelines issued by the national government,” the Governor said while receiving ten ventilators from well-wishers.
The current flattening curve on the numbers of those reported to have contracted the virus is a clear indication that the efforts being put in in the war against COVID-19 within the county are bearing fruits.
With more than 450 Intensive Care Unit beds for COVID-19 patients, Mombasa county has maintained the top position in the country among the 47 counties in terms of its preparedness in the fight against the killer virus.
Key areas and critical facilities have been prioritized including Kongowea, the biggest market in the county, as well as Likoni Ferry Channel where thousands of commuters cross on a daily basis to and from Mombasa Island to Likoni on the mainland and vice versa.
In these places, COVID-19 disinfecting booths have been positioned in such a way that all the market-goers and ferry commuters pass through them as they get disinfected.
Issuance of face masks, distribution of food donations, and supply of water to the less fortunate are also some of the projects that have seen Mombasa residents give a pat on the back to the county leadership led by Governor Hassan Joho.
The County’s Chief Officer for Community Public Health, Aisha Abubakar, has attributed the decrease in the number of infections to the efforts being put in place by the county to combat its spread.
“Health workers and Community Health Volunteers are important in terms of helping the County government fight the pandemic which continues to claim lives worldwide.” She says they have been at the forefront in sensitizing the community on government guidelines like washing hands and sanitizing after undergoing training which equipped them with the knowledge about COVID-19.
Being one of the counties put under lockdown, Mombasa managed to control the cases coming in from outside the county and had to fight the virus being spread from within, something many believe was partially achieved.
The county has shifted from mass testing to target testing where the most vulnerable are currently being tested, among them the front-line workers including health workers as well as the long-distance truck drivers who travel across borders.
With borders now open, emphasis is being placed on locals to take precautions now that guests from various places are visiting the coast and tourist city of Mombasa.
According to an Audit Findings Report for COVID-19 funds carried out in September 2020 by Haki Africa with support from Amkeni Wakenya and the UNDP, the County scored high in health facility preparedness (92%), provision of health services (73%) as well as in areas of food and nutrition (72%).
The audit assessed levels of service provision as opposed to the financial probity of the utilized funds, an action that was necessitated due to the public outcry on the misuse of COVID-19 funds nationally and in counties.
On his Facebook page, the Mombasa Governor attributes the good results achieved mainly to the collaborative and collective efforts by all those involved in the running of coherent and coordinated programmes that were crucial in managing the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The results of the audit made Kenyans on social media happy. This was seen through the comments made online especially on Facebook. Just to sample a few:
"So far you are the best performing governor…if given another chance you can turn Mombasa into another Dubai in Africa…I can see Dubai in Mombasa through you and people who can embrace your ideology," said James Nguta Mwaizinga.
Peninah Nyawira said, "Great; thanks for being transparent on COVID-19 funds that’s what we call visionary leadership; mola akubariki-God bless you."