PR&MB 2020 – The National and County Pandemic Response Committees

The National Pandemic Response Committee

The Bill provides for the establishment of a National Pandemic Response Committee upon the declaration of a pandemic. The implication is that the Committee dissolves as soon as a pandemic ends. The Committee is established by the President comprising the Cabinet Secretary for Health, the Principle Secretary for the ministry of Finance, the chairman of the Council of Governors as well as other Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries and Public officers that the President may choose. Some of the key functions of the Committee include co-ordinating the country’s response and management to the threat caused by the pandemic; co-ordinating capacity building of the relevant personnel for quick and effective response to the pandemic; and conducting economic impact assessments on the effects of the pandemic and develop mitigation strategies.

This Committee will be the control centre for the Country’s pandemic response. It is therefore important that it is properly constituted with personnel having sufficient knowledge and skills to handle a pandemic. On the face of it, the Committee only comprises of state and public officers which raises questions as to whether it is adequately comprised. The Bill however provides that the committee may co-opt into membership any other persons whose knowledge and skills are found necessary for the performance of the functions of the Committee. While this is acceptable, it is worth identifying certain fields and professions which must have expert representation in the committee. For instance, law and policy experts, financial risk analysts, data scientists as well as education and research experts. Further, it is not clear what the remuneration (if any) of the members of this Committee is going to be.

County Pandemic Response Committees

The Bill provides that each County Governor shall establish a County Pandemic Response Committee in their responsive counties. The primary responsibility of the committees is to implement the strategies and measures as directed by the National Committee as well as to coordinate the county’s response and management to the threats caused by the pandemic. The County Committees are particularly important as they are able to navigate around the effects of the Pandemic that are unique to their respective counties and come up with appropriate ways of facing these issues.