Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "We are deeply concerned about the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on our nation", says, a statement published at the end of a meeting organized by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK).
In the statement sent to Agenzia Fides, Christian leaders draw a dramatic picture of the situation caused by the pandemic: "Families have been torn apart; Men and women continue to be impoverished by loss of jobs and livelihoods; Child abuse and gender based violence have increased; The health and wellbeing of Kenyans has been devastated as medical facilities and staff are stretched to breaking point; and the exercise of communal worship has been disrupted".
The leaders of the main Christian confessions ask the faithful to "support one another and avoid stigmatizing those infected by the virus; to support local congregations to have income generating projects to ensure continued delivery of pastoral ministry during emergencies". They appeal to the government of Kenya to "prioritize the welfare of the people, not just the interests of the political leaders, in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic; address the reports of corruption in the procurement of materials and services for management of the pandemic; finance the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) so that it covers Kenyans infected by Covid-19 who have no other means of paying for the treatment; facilitate productive dialogue to negotiate and listen to the doctors and medical workers to end the current strikes that are affecting services to Kenyans".
Regarding the proposed reopening of schools in January 2021, Christian leaders underline "the need to ensure that the schools are ready and safe for the children to learn without exposing them to infection with the Covid-19 virus". It is worth noting that public schools were already crowded before the pandemic struck, and this is expected to worsen following the closure of many private institutions. Further, parents are likely to struggle raising school fees in view of the devastating effects of the pandemic".
The message concludes: "We recommend that that the government ensures that adequate safety measures are in place, and that NHIF is ready to cover for all costs of treatment for any learner who may get infected. Alongside this, psychosocial and spiritual support should be put in place during the resumption of in school learning. Where necessary, the Ministry of Education can engage religious institutions to avail facilities to be used as classrooms to achieve social distancing requirements". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 15/12/2020)