Africa advised to bolster community health

October 29, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 29 – African governments have been urged to adopt community based programmes for health provision to achieve national and international set goals.

Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said on Thursday that strengthening communities would promote health and so governments must seek actions that give voice and power to community groups.

“I would like to see health promotion becoming an issue of development at the highest level. I would like to see action to promote health being a commitment of government for holding the development community to account and being a subject to regular reports in the governing bodies of the United Nations,” he said.

Professor Nyong’o who spoke at the ongoing 7th Global Conference on Health Promotion said the Kenyan government had already embraced community action especially on HIV/AIDS and mental health.

He said to meet national and international set goals and especially the millennium development goals, it was important to address the social determinants of health like maternal and child mortality rates.

“We all seek economic growth as a sign of development. Markets are an important driver of growth but they have no inherent mechanism to correct inequity, to reduce risk of disease or to provide access to health care for the disadvantaged,” the Minister said.

“Your call to action should identify ways in which government intervention on markets can promote the health of the population while still being consistent with growth,” he added.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Public Health Minister Beth Mugo announced that Kenya would host yet another weeklong international health conference, this time on malaria control and treatment beginning Sunday.

This will be the third conference on health to be held in the last three weeks after the Urban Health Conference and the 7th Global Conference on Health Promotion.

Mrs Mugo said the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria comes at a time when Kenya was yet to achieve 100 percent coverage for use of Insecticide Treated bed nets (ITN’s) to control the spread of malaria.

“We have reached 64 percent coverage from four percent in 2002. Those mostly affected are children and pregnant mothers and this has adverse economic and emotional effects for developing countries such as Kenya where 30,000 people die every year from malaria,” she said.

Responding to recent remarks by the United States Special Representative for the Secretary of State for global partnerships Elizabeth Frawley Bagley that slum dwellers still lacked treated bed nets, the Minister said this was because they were not a high risk group.

“I don’t think that foreigners who come here for one day or two days can pretend to know more about Kenya than those of us who live here,” she stated.

“If Mathare (slum) has not been wholly covered, it is because Nairobi in general is not rated as a very high risk area. We have not covered every household but areas where malaria is rated very high, not only have we covered with ITN’s but also done residual spraying,” she added.

She said Nyanza and Coast provinces and Kisii were the ones that had a high prevalence of malaria and were the areas that had been almost fully covered with ITN’s.

Mid this month, Ms Bagley pledged to mobilise resources to provide medical supplies to slum dwellers.

She had told Capital News that this would especially be in Mukuru slums where the dwellers lacked items like bed nets to protect against malaria despite the disease being a leading killer for children under the age of five years.

“We are going to get together with our people at the USAID and the presidents malaria initiative and get them bed nets,” she had said.


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