This partnership complements the government’s national pandemic response, as well as county-level responses, coordinated through the Ministry of Devolution and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and the Council of Governors. The 50 UN Volunteer Health Experts were recruited from the communities they will serve by UNDP, UNV and the County Public Service Boards.
The UN Volunteers have healthcare experience and will be deployed to 14 counties identified by the Ministry of Health, namely Kakamega, Busia, Garissa, Kajiado, Machakos, Kilifi, Kiambu, Taita Taveta, Wajir, Kisumu, Migori, Mandera, Uasin Gishu and Nairobi counties.
They will take up different roles, such as Clinical Officers, Nursing Officers, Public Health Officers and Laboratory Technicians, and will also support social protection programmes in their counties.
The COVID-19 Response Programme was developed from the UN Joint Devolution Programme after development partners Finland, Italy and Sweden consented to remobilizing USD 3.1 million to respond to the pandemic in Kenya.
It is being implemented by UNDP, UNICEF and UN Women, with UNDP playing the coordination role.
Interventions enacted through the programme will mitigate both the spread and impact of COVID-19 by increasing the capacity of the healthcare system, building the resilience of vulnerable populations, bolstering social protection, and advocating for the rights of women.
"The identification and recruitment of the 50 health personnel could not have been possible in such a short time without the existing strong partnership between UNDP and UNV, which UNDP is proud to administer and support in the implementation its mandate. The volunteers we are deploying bring a range of skills and experience that is urgently needed in the fight against COVID-19 at county level. Join me in commending them for availing themselves and joining the frontline workers who are putting lives of others ahead of their own," said Walid Badawi, UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya at the event.
More of what he said at the event can be found on the UNDP Kenya website:
Under this programme, the three UN entities are working closely with the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Devolution and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, the Ministry of Interior and Internal Security, the Ministry of Health, and the State Department for Gender, as well as other entities including Council of Governors, the County Assemblies Forum, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and civil society.
The recruitment of the health experts was undertaken in close collaboration with the respective County Public Service Boards of the 14 target counties.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Mr Siddharth Chatterjee, said the war against COVID-19 requires a combined and coordinated strategy in order to curb the spread of the infections. He noted that the programme is part of a COVID-19 response support initiative for counties, spearheaded by UNDP in partnership with its donors.
Mr Chatterjee emphasized that interventions enacted through the programme will mitigate both the spread and impact of COVID-19, by increasing the capacity of the healthcare system, building resilience of vulnerable populations and bolstering social protection.
This crisis can only be managed through partnerships, and we stand with the Government of Kenya in its efforts to battle the pandemic. That is why today we are commissioning 50 health volunteers to 14 counties to help boost their capacity. --Mr Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator
The sentiments of the UN Resident Coordinator were also echoed by H.E. Josesph Ole Lenku, the Govenor of Kajiado County, who hosted the event.
"I look forward to receiving my county’s share of the UN Volunteers. They are very welcome here and we look forward to working with them in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
One of the key success factors in the fight against COVID-19 is timely and efficient testing. Jacob is one of the volunteers who will be stationed in Nairobi county as a laboratory technologist. He will be offering laboratory testing support services to the county government.
Nairobi county has been the worst hit region in Kenya due to its urbanized character as the capital of the country. Hellen Muchira will be working in preventive activities to help reduce COVID-19 infections in the county.
"I am excited to be taking up this assignment," she said.
With COVID-19 cases on an upward trend in Kenya, the country is bracing for a peak in infection cases in a few months. By July 1, the government had conducted 173,355 COVID-19 tests, 6,673 of which were positive.
The deployment of the UN Volunteers was therefore quite well received by the government and general public, with extensive media coverage. Below is a collection of some media coverage of the deployment flag-off: