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Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 265
20th January - 24th January 2020

Editorial

No Health Without Mental Health

The conversation on mental health has slowly but surely been gaining momentum in Kenya. In November 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Health to establish a task force that would investigate the current mental health status in the country and report back within 90 days. After which, the task force is expected to provide recommendations, in the form of new or revised policies, to address what seems to be a dire situation.

The timing of this directive by the President couldn’t have been better seeing that the media is awash with reports of suicide, violence and substance abuse. To this effect, the task force has set out to receive views from the public across the country. This public participation process is seeking submissions that will touch on; mental health priority issues in Kenyans’ respective areas, proposals on practical solutions to the priority mental health issues and the level of preparedness to address these mental health issues.

Through an SMS question, we sought to get a pulse of the nation on mental health. Some of the major concerns that emerged from the responses were; lack of awareness, stigma, inadequate mental health facilities and staff, accessibility and affordability of mental health services, availability of mental health facilities in counties and the current economic state and corruption as catalysts to mental illnesses.

These responses mirror some of the issues highlighted in the 2015 Kenya Mental Health Policy that was drafted by the James Macharia-led team. The 32-page document set out to achieve these four objectives; strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health; ensure access to comprehensive, integrated and high quality, promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative mental health care services at all levels of healthcare; implement strategies for promotion of mental health, prevention of mental disorders and substance use disorders; and strengthen mental health systems.

News of the Week

Senators reject motion to have 11-member team decide Waititu fate

During the Tuesday Senate Special sitting, the house voted against handling Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s impeachment through a proposed committee and instead opted for a whole house plenary.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen tabled the motion to have an 11-member team put together, chaired by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, to investigate Waititu. The motion was however shot down, with only 16 members voting for it against the 28 who rejected it.
Senate Speaker, Ken Lusaka has set special sittings to this effect on the 28th and 29th January 2020 to discuss Waititu’s fate. The proposed Committee was to be deputized by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika.
Other members of the proposed committee were Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki, Nyamira Senator Okong’o Mogeni, Kisumu Senator Fredrick Outa, Marsabit Senator Hargura Godana, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, Lamu Senator Anwar Oloitiptip, Meru Senator Mithika Linturi and Nominated Senators Sylvia Kasanga and Iman Falhada.

 

No security from the House, Muturi tells MPs linked to crime

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi dismissed calls by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen to provide security to MPs who have lost their bodyguards. Mr Muturi told the two legislators to read the PSC Act on what it states about the responsibilities of the commission. He also maintained that PSC will not pay any member who hires a private bodyguard.
In November last year, Mr Muturi told the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) he did not need permission from Parliament to investigate any member who commits a crime outside the House. He said he had no control of members’ behaviour outside the precincts of Parliament.

Consortium sets out on M&E for Parliament Work

A consortium of experts in monitoring and evaluation has been on a campaign to integrate gender and equity into the work of Parliament as well as evaluate how resources need to be deployed, all in a bid to ensure that projects are designed in a manner that benefits everyone. Previously, there has been a concern that lack of evidence-informed oversight has resulted in projects that are indeed laudable, but unfortunately not all-inclusive.
The situation has been further magnified by the fact that since parliamentarians are mainly appointed to office on a populist basis, not all of them are qualified to critically analyse information forwarded to them. The consortium comprises two international evaluation actors, namely the African Gender and Development Evaluators Network and the International Development Evaluation Association and a parliamentary caucus on evidence-based oversight. The Parliamentary caucus, led by former Machakos Woman Rep Susan Musyoka and Kitui Central MP, Dr Makali Mulu maintains that a lot of reforms need to be made, stating that a poor monitoring and evaluation system in Kenya will continue to plague development.

Quote of the Week

"I have questions around the composition of this Committee. I'm wondering do we have an opportunity/window to have a plenary hearing as opposed to a Committee hearing? Because this matter is very weighty. This matter is one that Kenyans have entrusted to us and all of us as Senators would like to be part of this process to ensure justice is served to the people of Kiambu"

Quote by Nominated Senator Abshiro Halake while debating the Motion to Establish a Select Committee to hear the impeachment charges against Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu on January 21st 2020.

Lest we forget

"From the statistics, Kenya is among 54 out of 194 World Health Organisations (WHO) members that do not have a separate budget for mental health. Therefore, as a country whose one of the Big Four Agendas is universal healthcare, we cannot have universal healthcare without including mental health. Also, we cannot deal with mental health problems without funding. Therefore, it will be extremely important that funds are set aside."

Comments by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika during the debate on the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2018 on June 11th 2019.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili 'Babu Owino' was charged with attempted murder and being disorderly while carrying a firearm following the shooting of a DJ at B-Club in Nairobi on January 17th 2020. The MP spent the weekend in police custody before being arraigned in court. Detectives are also said to have visited Owino’s Kileleshwa residence and the scene of crime where they recovered nine rounds of ammunition and a spent cartridge respectively, as exhibit awaiting analysis by ballistic experts. Babu Owino’s lawyer Cliff Ombeta, claimed his client took Evolve to hospital and that he did not shoot the DJ.

... PROFILE

Bills before the Senate

First Reading

Public Participation

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