NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 26 – Kenya has recorded a 40 percent reduction in mortality rates for children under five in the last five years, according to government statistics.
President Mwai Kibaki said on Monday that this had been achieved through increased immunisation coverage and use of insecticide-treated bed nets to control malaria.
“We have also seen strengthening of global initiatives with increased funding that have made available more resources targeting the major killer diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and vaccine preventable diseases,” the Head of State said.
Speaking when he opened the 7th Global Conference on Health Promotion at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, President Kibaki said global child mortality had reduced by 25 percent which was a right step to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
He however said despite this improvement in child mortality, improving maternal health remained a challenge with expectant mothers still dying during child birth.
He said there were huge shortfalls in efforts to achieve this Millennium Development Goal number five of Improving Maternal Health often referred to as the heart of the MDGs.
“This goal seeks to guarantee universal access to reproductive health and its failure means other MDGs have little chance of succeeding,” he said.
He noted that globally 536,000 maternal deaths occurred per year which translated to one maternal death every minute. The President noted that although maternal mortality decreased globally by less than 0.4 percent per year between 1990 and 2005, it was far below the 5.5 percent annual decrease needed to achieve the projected 75 percent decrease by 2015.
“In this day and age, it is not acceptable that so many mothers are dying during childbirth,” he said.
The Head of State said the forum needed to identify innovative ways of accelerating implementation of agreed strategies targeting maternal and new born health.
He called on the International Community to focus attention on issues like poverty, housing, food security and education which were social determinants of health.
Public Health Minister Beth Mugo noted that health promotion could be achieved by all despite the economic status. She said there was need for specific health intervention promotion.
“If we all had 15 percent of annual budget to going to health as agreed in the Abuja declaration, we would bridge this gap of implementation,” she said.
This is the first time the five days conference is being held in the African continent and will discuss ways to seal the gaps in implementation of evidence based health promotion and weak health promotion capacity.