, KAMPALA, Jul 25 – President Mwai Kibaki on Sunday joined other African Heads of State and Government for the 15th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Uganda.
The African Union Summit whose theme is Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa is expected to come up with strategies of improving funding in the health sector in order to reduce high infant mortality rates and maternal challenges facing the continent.
The meeting, which is being held at a time when the continent is facing major challenges in financing some of the key Millennium Development Goals, is expected to be a forum at which the continental leaders will galvanise their efforts to achieve their commitments towards the MDG\’s and also ensure that no woman dies while giving life.
The Kenyan Government has been in the forefront in implementing new innovative strategies that have helped reduce the infant mortality rate from 77 per 1,000 live births in 2003 to 52 per 1,000 in 2009.
Through these new measures, the under-five years mortality rates have also reduced from 115 per 1,000 in 2003 to 74 per 1,000 live births in 2009.
The achievements made so far by the Government in this sector are mostly attributed to the improved child health care services, including strengthened immunisation programmes, introduction of new vaccines, intensified HIV prevention and reduction in malaria related deaths due to intensive malaria control activities.
At the end of the Summit, African leaders are expected to come up with policies which will make health services more accessible and affordable to the majority of the populations who are living below poverty line and more so women and children.
The Summit is also expected to address critical issues for the development and integration of the African Continent.
Among other key issues which the continental leaders are to deliberate upon include the rapid socio-economic transformation of African Societies through the development of energy and infrastructural networks as well as the consolidation of peace and security.
Speaking during the opening ceremony the current African Union Chairman Mbingu wa Mutharika who is the Malawian President, expressed hope that the summit will be able to come up with practical solutions to challenges facing women and children
The host President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni noted that African countries cannot meet the critical needs of women and children unless they develop economic stimulus programmes which will in turn create job opportunities for their populations.
He also said that the nations of Africa cannot be able to transform into modern economies unless they develop and expand energy and infrastructural networks.
President Museveni noted that lack of proper energy and infrastructural networks are some of the major impediments to foreign investments leading to lack of job creation for the people of Africa.
Other speakers included the African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping, United Nations Secretary General representative Rose Migiro, Secretary General of the Arab League of Nations Amre Mousa, Mexican President Felipe De Jesus Calderon and President Mohamad Abbas of the Palestine National Authority among others.
President Kibaki is accompanied by Ministers Moses Wetangula and Beth Mugo, among other senior Government officials.