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BY REUTERS ,NAIROBI,21ST AUG 2020-Police used tear gas against dozens of protesters who had gathered at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park, Nairobi to demonstrate against the COVID-19 scandal involving procurement of protective gear.
This follows the suspension of the head of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) over allegations that the agency procured low quality items and inflated prices of others.
“We are tired of being bombarded every single day with news of how much money we are losing that should be going to fight the COVID pandemic,” said Wanjeri Nderu, who helped organize the protest on Friday.
She added: “We decided today to have a peaceful march. We were teargassed more than 20 times … some of my colleagues have been arrested.”
Police said the protest was not authorized even though the organizers dismissed the claims.
Meanwhile, KEMSA Chief Executive Officer Jonah Manjari failed to appear before a Senate committee on Friday to explain alleged misappropriation of funds.
The committee was informed that the suspended CEO had fallen sick and been admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital.
Senators Michael Mbito and Sylvia Kasanga who are co-chairs of the committee, had summoned the KEMSA boss to explain the alleged irregularities in the procurement process of medical equipment.
It is alleged that double pricing from suppliers led to Ksh. 7.7billion loss of public funds.
Foreign donors have since threatened to withdraw funding following a round of recent COVID-19 funds scandal.
On Friday, doctors in most public hospitals Nairobi also downed their tools in protest over delayed salaries and lack of protective equipment (PPEs).
The strike began at midnight on Friday, said Thuranira Kaugiria, secretary general for the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.
He said 320 doctors employed by the Nairobi County government were taking part in the strike because they had inadequate health insurance, poor quality protective gear and too few isolation wards to treat COVID-19 patients.
Kenya has so far reported 31,441 coronavirus cases, 620 deaths and 13,536 recoveries out of 407,610 tests done so far with the majority in Nairobi County.
Doctors have been posting pictures on Twitter of what they say is inadequate gear supplied by the government, including porous overalls meant to protect against dust that would not prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Nairobi Metropolitan Services boss Mohamed Badi have appealed to health workers to resume their duties and resume talks to resolve the stalemate.
Sonko said the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for all counties urging health workers to make a sacrifice for the sake of other Kenyans.