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Letters

LETTERS: Astute leadership needed to guide pandemic crisis

Mutahi Kagwe
Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO 

The continued manifestation of the sporadic spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has caused a global turmoil.

Countries are fighting a war of nerves to manage the pandemic. Scientists, constantly trying to get jumbled thoughts together on what can be a reliable remedy, soon.

One by one, every possibility is analysed and given the weight it deserves, in reputable medical laboratories. Through these unrelenting efforts in research, it is hoped that there will be a breakthrough in finding a cure or vaccine that the world needs most, soonest.

Winning the coronavirus war is not a responsibility of medical pundits alone for the pandemic has proven to be a collective tragedy. Collective responsibilities are handy in fostering efforts to front a cure or vaccine.

Citizens’ collective responsibility comes into play when they apply and observe procedures and protocols that health experts have provided, which are touted to be working preventive mechanisms, pending curative breakthroughs, in days and weeks ahead.

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As the world waits in great hope and optimism, it is highly recommended that all must observe personal hygiene, maintain social distancing and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

Other interventions include seeking immediate medical care if one has fever, cough and difficulty breathing. More importantly, is the need to stay informed and follow advice from one’s healthcare provider through authentic channel and platforms.

Striking examples from Taiwan and Singapore attest to the fact that the interventions cannot only reduce the virility of the virus but to deter new infections. Any lag in response can translate into horrible outcomes if examples from Europe is anything to go by. But like any other time in a leader’s calendar, the journey of leading a country through success and turmoil, mountains and valleys, the buck stops with the leader. Few things can foist this metric, especially when it is 2020 and the people you are leading are faced with the danger of coronavirus.

Every word a leader speaks and step or direction a leader gives or takes must be as precise as possible like the surgeon’s scalpel in the theatre.

The leader must be firm and resilient, hopeful and reassuring — giving orders that must be followed to the letter by all and sundry — not by throwing in the towel no matter the weight that Covid-19 may bring about but constantly striving to provide a solution through the crisis.

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 crisis presents leaders with tumultuous moments when their ability and capability to make decisions that have the power to save the nation, especially its most vulnerable including refugees are keenly monitored by all and sundry. Like a pilot who purposes with diligence and diction, determination and devotion to navigate an aircraft through murky weather, so must a leader. One should prioritise needs and inject more resources where they are needed. Everyone else in the ship could be asleep but the leader has to engage gears, consult with policymakers and thinkers, work on various options, bring doers on board and direct them to give their best with a dedication to saving their nation and continent.

By yesterday, the world had registered 734,994 confirmed cases, 34,781 deaths and 155,965 recovered cases. Whereas African countries’ effort to defeat the virus might be extolled by some, many have argued governments’ laxity in banning international travel in its airspace and blatant delay to limit movement are avenues that catalysed the spread of the disease.

Africa’s coronavirus problem has, arguably, been spanned by the continent’s inability to mobilise resources to manage the crisis, the deplorable state of healthcare systems, high levels of poverty, the already endemic diseases like malaria, dengue and cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and chikungunya, climate change challenges, refugees and the problem of migrants.

Coupled with corruption and malfeasance, these factors can tilt the tide of things from Italy to Africa unless urgent inter-governmental steps are put in place. Public awareness across all media platforms and outlets can go a long way in averting the looming danger.

In bolstering leaders’ interventions, citizens should work in harmony with authorities to report suspected cases to enable mitigation. The fight against coronavirus is not for health workers, politicians or policymakers per se but a war that we stand to win if we follow health guidelines given to by experts and those in authority.

Obed Nyangena via e-mail

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