A team of experts from the University of Nairobi has drafted several legislative proposals to aid government in the management of global pandemic Covid-19.
Prepared by experts drawn from schools of law and medicine as well as Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP), the Covid-19 Response and Management Draft Bill 2020 among others seeks to protect the rights of citizens during the pandemic. It also protects vulnerable families from hunger by obligating national and county governments to provide food rations and cash transfers to them. This will cushion the vulnerable families from the economic impacts of coronavirus. “Cabinet Secretary responsible for Interior and Coordination of National Government, in coordination with county governments, shall undertake a rapid assessment to map households and individuals facing food insecurity and acute lack of essential supplies and determine, in each case, whether it is appropriate to provide food, essential supplies or periodic cash grants,” the bill proposes.
Addressing the plight of healthcare workers, the draft bill also compels the government to provide life insurance for all healthcare professionals for 12 months, even after the end of the pandemic. Global statistics indicate that while attending to coronavirus patients healthcare workers have ended up contracting the disease or losing their lives.
Touching on employee rights, the draft bill states that, ““Notwithstanding the provisions of the Employment Act, no employer shall terminate, lay off or declare any employee redundant during the pandemic, and for a six-month period thereafter.” This is will be useful given reports that private companies among other organizations are already laying staff or sending others on compulsory unpaid leaves.
On social and psychological support, the document states that, “the Cabinet Secretary responsible for Health shall, deploy a sufficient number of counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists as needed to provide mental health.
The proposals have since been submitted to Attorney General Paul Kihara for government consideration before it can be taken to Parliament.
The University of Nairobi is at the forefront in helping fight Covid-19 across the country and the world. Early this month, the African union appointed Professor Francis Mulaa, Prof. Ratemo Michieka and Prof Dimbson Bulimo to serve in its Science, Technology and Innovations (STI) for Covid-19 interventions. Additionally, doctors and nurses as well as senior students in the college of health sciences (CHS) are directly involved in treating coronavirus patients.