Kenyans abroad have come together through the Diaspora COVID-19 Taskforce (DCTF) to rally both intellectual and financial resources to confront the new Coronavirus. They have initiated a COVID Fund with the aim to complement efforts by the government to accelerate containment of the virus spread, and cushion Kenyans at home and abroad from the effects of COVID-19.
Kenyans living in the diaspora, through the Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA), Diaspora Institute, Kenya North America Diaspora SACCO (KNADS) and the Diaspora Health Task Team (DHTT), have come together to mobilize funds and other resources to compliment the Kenya Government’s efforts in the fight to combat the effects of COVID-19. The efforts will be co-ordinated by the Diaspora Covid-19 Taskforce (DCTF) which was constituted in March 2020 to directly manage diaspora’s COVID-19 responses. The Taskforce has so far been involved in mobilizing modest funds, gathering expertise, participating in informative discussions, and acting as an advisory organ to KDA members, affiliates and partners.
The Diaspora Health Task Team (DHTT), a collaborative effort between KDA, Kenya Medical Association (KMA), Kenya Health Federation (KHF), Chandaria Foundation, KenyaRelief.org, Optiven Foundation, World Bank’s Africa Health Initiative, among others, was formed in August 2019 with the blessings of the Ministry of Health (MoH) to stimulate realization of universal health coverage (UHC).
Since the formation of the Taskforce, a number of COVID-19 interventions have been put in place, notably, boosting of the tertiary health facility in Wajir country with the first ever 2-bed ICU capacity in partnership with the World Bank. Other interventions include production of up to 10,000 masks per day, in 8 counties in partnership with the Women in Business group and facilitation of Diaspora and returnee doctors to train community health workers (CHWs) and volunteers in Siaya County. The Taskforce has also collaborated with the University of Nairobi Virology Department and KAVI to conduct initial clinical treatment trials, and petitioned the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to evacuate and bring home returnee Kenyans from China, India, USA, UK, Nigeria, Iraq and now Lebanon.
The Taskforce aims at raising $2Million (Ksh. 200 Million), to support 10-20 Counties in phase 1 over the next 3-6 months.
Speaking about the initiative, Kenya Diaspora Alliance’s Global Chairperson, Dr. Shem Ochuodho said that some of the resources required, particularly at rural county levels and slum dwellings, include support in the form of community volunteer groups, gender based violence programs, mental health programs, training and equipping of health care workers, supply of PPE to the frontline workers and support in distribution of survival kits.
“We have noted the critical importance, difference and impact of our intervention in health and general socio-economic standing of the beneficiaries within and out of the country. While more activities are lined up, the taskforce has embarked on massive mobilization of resources, in the form of funds and in-kind support. To be able to accomplish what we have set out to do, we are seeking partnership, collaboration, cooperation with our partners and other volunteers,” said Dr. Ochuodho. Speaking from New York where she is based, the Taskforce’s Chairperson, Rosemary Musomba said the world faces unprecedented times caused by COVID-19, Kenya is one of the Sub-Saharan countries where it is estimated that the pandemic will push a large number of the 49 million population into extreme poverty. Some of the effects of COVID-19 include lost lives, loss of include, and an overburdened health system.