The government is targetting to distribute 8.5 re-usable facemasks to school-going children in all the 47 counties as part of measures to protect them from the risk of COVID-10.The distribution that kicked off last week is done through the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) following the approval of the Ministry of Health.

KEMSA’s acting Chief Executive Officer Edward Njoroge said the distribution plan is categorised into three parts with children aged 0-6 years (PP1 to Grade 1) expected to receive 3 million reusable face masks, 6 to 12 years (Grade 4 to Std 8) 2.25 million and 13 years (secondary school learners) 2.25 million.“The distribution team has already identified and mapped out the fastest and most efficient routes to ensure that the reusable face masks reach the school-going children in good time,” Njoroge said.

Mwiki Primary School in Kiambu County, was the first beneficiary due to its high population of students. It received 4,320 pieces of face masks to cater for the 3,991 children enrolled in the institution.In February alone, 637,407 face masks will be distributed to Nairobi and its environs including Murang’a, Kajiado and Kiambu Counties given the high prevalence of COVID-19 reported within these regions.

Nairobi County will receive 34,641 masks for children below 6 years, 57,723 for 6-12 years and 48,648 for 13 years and above.Murang’a County 39,869 for children below 6 years, 43,980 for children aged between 6-12 years and 84,003 for 13 years and above.Kiambu County 90,600 for children below 6 years, 60,914 for 6-12 years and 96,469 for 13 years and above.

Kajiado County will receive 50,936 for children below 6 years, 6,670 for children aged between 6-12 years and 22,954 for 13 years and above.Njoroge said the authority was working closely with Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) to ensure timely delivery and distribution of the rest of the face masks to the targeted schools.

“KEMSA has confirmed receipt of a distribution plan from MoH for the rest of the counties and will play our role of ensuring that the commodities are distributed promptly to the last mile based on stock availability,” he assured.So far, the authority has received a partial delivery of 1,348, 560 for over 13 years, 146,196 –for 6-12 years and 176,400 – below 6 years masks from the KNCCI and is expecting the rest of the consignment in the coming weeks, which will help the Authority to fully roll out the distribution.

The KEMSA Head of Distribution Denis Agango said the complexities of rugged terrain and poor road network in reaching last-mile locations come into play when planning the shipment routing. However, with experienced distributors this challenge is always surmountable, Agango assured.

“Currently, many parts of  the country are experiencing heavy rains and we expect that some parts are quite difficult to reach, however, as an experienced medical logistics provider, we are going to do whatever it takes to ensure that delivery to drop off points are done,” said Agango.

While launching the distribution program early this week, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said the distribution of reusable face masks would be given to learners in schools with high enrolment, those in informal settlements and special needs schools.

Magoha said the Education Ministry (MoE) had promised to supply free washable face masks to schools nationwide to boost Covid-19 prevention.