Some risk management lessons from Health CS Secretary Kagwe

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Some risk management lessons from Health CS Secretary Kagwe

Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe was mentioned in the “Wall Street Journal” as one of the good leaders in the management of Covid-19. Kenya received a notable mention alongside South Korea and United Kingdom. Businesses can learn a thing or two about proper risk and crisis management from our cabinet secretary.

He was appointed just one month before the first case was reported in Kenya. The manner in which he has led and managed the Ministry of Health through the crisis is commendable and provides a learning curve for businesses.

Risk management is the process in which organisations identify and manage risks from various sources while crisis management is the process through which a business deals with an unexpected event. Covid-19 incudes issues of risk and crisis management. International Organization For Standards, the standard setting organisation provides recommendations in which risk and crisis ought to be handled. ISO 22320:2018 covers crisis management while ISO 31000 covers risk management.

ISO 31000 provides many recommendations on the proper handling of risk. Firstly it recommends that risk ought to be handled in a structured manner. Kenya has embraced a structured approach to the crisis. The Kenya Covid-19 Technical Task Force is one of the structured teams that were formed to advice the Ministry of Health on the best way to handle the crisis. The taskforcecomprises experts in relevant fields.

ISO 31000 calls for inclusivity in management of risks and crisis. It provides that stakeholders ought to participate in managing the crisis. The approach to managing the Covid-19 crisis in Kenya has involved all stakeholders. They include the health professionals, hospitals, public, police force, media, schools and religious institutions. There has been an organised and harmonised approach to management of the crisis.


The only negative report has been on police brutality in enforcement of the curfew.

The ISO 31000 highlights the importance of good communication in managing a crisis. The Ministry of Health has done quite a commendable job in issuing timely and accurate information on a daily basis. The daily updates are a manner in which the Ministry of Health is able to communicate with stakeholders as well as provide a means of reassurance. Mr Kagwe has done a commendable job in this regards. The Ministry of Health has used diverse communication platforms including print, digital and even social media to communicate. The ministry ‘swebsite has been updated to include a resource page for Covid-19.

The YouTube interview between the President and two Covid-19 survivors went a long way in reassuring the public on the country’s health systems and creation of awareness. It boosted confidence and hope that indeed it is possible to overcome the crisis. The measures adopted by the Ministry of Health have taken into account the culture in which we live in.

Businesses can learn a lot by observing the manner in which the cabinet secretary led the ministry through this crisis. First thing is to have a risk and crisis policy. It is important to have structures in the event of a crisis. For example who will take up leadership of the crisis? It is important to have a budgetary allocation. It is important to consider risk mitigation strategies as this will help your business better handle crisis when it comes. It is crucial to involve stakeholders when managing risk and engage in accurate and consistent communication all through the crisis period.

At the end of the crisis, your business may come out with a stronger governance and leadership.

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