A shortage of drugs and face masks may hinder any fight against coronavirus if the deadly disease reaches Kenya, an investigation by the Nation has revealed.
Thousands of masks are said to have been re-exported from Kenya to China, where at least 70,000 people have been infected with the virus, while drugs needed to manage the disease are dwindling as factories in the Asian country are not manufacturing them fast enough.
The masks have been moved from Kenya though the country does not have enough of them to contain an outbreak.
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board had earlier stopped re-exports of masks to China, noting that Kenyans would need them should there be an outbreak, but a senior government official vetoed the decision, according to a source in the Health ministry.
After the Chinese government made an export application online, it was declined on the condition that Kenya is also at risk and not enough masks are in the market.
The Chinese then went the diplomatic way and Kenyan officials were ordered to release the masks.
An insider at the Ministry of Health told the Sunday Nation that immediately after the orders were declined, senior officials were summoned and asked to approve the deal.
It was done thereafter and the masks were flown to China under the condition that Kenya has had favourable trade dealings with the Asian nation.
“We are joking with the lives of Kenyans. We are so much into trade, business that we have forgotten that we are playing with the lives of 47 million Kenyans,” said a source at the ministry.
The Nation has learnt that since Thursday, business people have been moving from one supplier to another buying the items, assembling and exporting them to China.
“The Chinese are buying the best masks in the market, the N95, yet supplies are in shortage,’” says the insider.