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27, June 2022

By Booker Ngesa Omole.

  1. By all metrics, China’s zero Covid Strategy was successful and provides valuable lessons for Kenyans. Undiluted by politics, all outcomes including infections, hospitalization and death; the performance of its economy and overall health and wellbeing of the people were better than the Western nations. We must take a scientific approach to policies and provide for all Kenyans as espoused in article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya.
  2. Measures and strategy used in China were not plucked from thin air: pandemic infrastructure was set up twenty years during the SARS outcome and continued intervention on public health issues have been in place since 1962. The government must prioritize investment and policies in primary care, technology and healthcare workers; pass policies that promote preventative approaches to address communicable and lifestyle diseases.

Nairobi—27 June 2022— The Communist Party of Kenya is leading a national conversation about our public health. Our discussions are led by research and insights from experts in public health and pandemic preparedness.

Based on our research, it is evident that by all metrics, China’s Zero Covid-approach had better outcomes than the capitalist strategies deployed in the West on every aspect. China  saw less infections, hospitalization and deaths. Furthermore, the country had shorter lockdowns and did not institute natio-wide lockdowns and closures, which left the rest of the country open. It is not by chance that it recorded a positive economic growth at the time.  According to Dr. Dan Oluoch, the medical outcomes are quite astonishing: “By all measures, China’s Zero COVID Strategy led to better outcomes for the people and managed to maintain a low number of deaths and infections. If you adjust for population size, there have been around three deaths per million people in mainland China, compared with about 3,000 in the US and 2,400 in the UK.”

China’s zero-Covid strategy was drawn from the country’s experience when it handled the SARS outbreak which ended in 2004. It is that infrastructure, expertise and systems that we mobilized and expanded to handle the COVID19 pandemic. Therefore, Kenya needs to strengthen our levels of preparedness when it comes to our public health and the government should invest wisely in our primary health care by providing the personnel and testing infrastructure to ensure diseases are caught early and managed before they become a burden to the society.

During the work, CPK identified the opportunities for policy makers to build a more responsive public health infrastructure. From taking advantage of technology to improve things like record keeping and contact tracing (when needed), the government should also pass policies that promote change in lifestyle to increase our preventive medical approach. Such policies would increase making roads and infrastructure that are cyclist and pedestrian friendly to passing laws on sugar as a health hazard, nutrition and food sourcing and policies to deal with degrading environment and climate change that is introducing toxins in the air and in food and water supplies.

CPK’s plenary discussions outlined the opportunity to mobilize the community - the public, policy makers and medical professionals - to explore preventative medicine as a means to alleviate the cost of healthcare for the individuals and communities. Such activities would raise public awareness and create demand for proactive action in our public health by putting pressure for better policies and effective use of public money that goes into healthcare. This is a critical but important first step in challenging the status quo where healthcare has become more private sector-driven and the narrative or curative measures come from a profit motive as opposed to a preventative approach espoused in Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya.

Medical experts predict that there will be more epidemics as environmental stresses and climate change continue to exert its whip on humanity. We can already see a sharp increase in chronic lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension and cardio-vascular diseases and a rise in different types of cancers and respiratory diseases as a result of micro and nano plastics in our food and water systems and polluted air respectively. All these issues make a case for prioritizing public health policies as the financial burden and cost to the community will only grow bigger and bigger.

The Communist Party of Kenya has taken the first step to bridge the knowledge gap and educate the relevant categories of stakeholders to help them transition and shift their thinking on both public health matters and preventative care. By moving quickly as new governments settle in the counties and the next regime, we will push this message and share our insights to influence policy and invite discussions that serve the people and promote scientific approach to policy making. By giving counter narratives and showcasing contradictions caused by the Capitalist approach to healthcare, we can expose Kenyans to alternative thinking to solve our problems.

Speaking of what comes next, Booker said: “The capitalist system that maintains the profit life of a few people, we should not expect better. To bring change, we must adopt a mechanism for community-led responses for organising and mobilizing around the issues of preventative approach and improving the preparedness of our public health systems and policies. Based on the current circumstances of the CPK, our role is to open the debate that would force policy from the top. While the capitalist system has made people dependent, can we also work to shape people’s opinion based on principle? While this will take some time to happen, our guiding principles as socialists is that change is a process, and the process is a struggle and the thing that outlives us.”

All the same, it was inspiring to note the progress made by socialist countries like Cuba who have sent their medical personnel to Kenya to help with the pandemic. Cuba has managed to build a socialized healthcare system despite facing economic and other embargos from the West.  Communism is a journey and we are taking those steps by practicing socialism. “Kenyans must demand for the realization of our National Values and Principles of Governance as espoused in Article 10 of our Constitution which actually demands for socialism. Kenya needs to implement Article 43 of the Constitution to the fullest. This Article demands that every Kenyan must have decent housing; clean and safe water; adequate and nutritious food; access to the highest standards of health and healthcare; access to social security; and access to education.”

 

Media contacts:

For questions or to request an interview, please contact Sefu Sani at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Notes to editors:

Methodology 

Our research examined the last forty years in pandemics by looking at responses from different governments and the outcomes of those diseases. Presenting four pandemics and outbreaks: HIV/AIDs, SARS, Ebola and Covid19, we drew lessons from the United States (HIV, Ebola, COVID19) and China (SARS. COVID19) and the political motivation behind the decisions taken by those governments.

The success of the stop and end policies adopted by China in both cases took the same path as the USA's response to Ebola versus the response to HIV/AIDs. We measured how the political will influenced media narratives, public opinion and science. In cases where science and medical guidelines took precedence, the outcomes were much better than in situations where politics controlled the response.

The research also took a study to determine whether the health outcomes had a significant impact on the economy: considering the narratives for downplaying the pandemic could have been done for economic reasons. This study presented the economic outcomes: business and school closures, length of lockdowns, scope of lockdowns and other long-term costs to the economy. The results provided for better outcomes where scientific approaches to containing the disease were used rather than those driven by political motives.

About this report

Led by our policy researchers and medical professionals specialising in public health and preventative medicine, CPK members and journalists participated in a policy mobilisation discussion during a workshop on Public Health. The theme of the workshop: Lessons from China’s Zero Policy: scientific management of society for better outcomes.

During the workshop, the speakers shared their experiences from their respective medical practice and journey on the preparedness and policy challenges; building on the discussions and understanding from the case studies of successful interventions in public health and pandemics.

This was a very dynamic discussion that considered the state of Kenya’s preparedness and approach to preventative medicine and the shortcomings within the system.

The workshop, which was moderated, allowed for in-presentation discussion and input from the room. This made the discussions very dynamic and the capable presenters were able to loop in responses that enriched the discussions and provided references for the attendees and the media.

The workshop concluded with a two-hour plenary session that put things in perspective from the party’s ideology and a challenge on how to influence future policy and issues in public health, pandemic preparedness and preventative medicine going forward.

 

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