NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 21- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now partnering with the government to help Kenya improve reproductive health services among its urban poor.
Speaking during the 8th International Conference on Urban Health on Wednesday, Senior Programme Officer Monica Kerrigan said the foundation had dedicated itself towards improving reproductive health care among the urban poor in Kenya.
“The foundation is committed to serving the needs of mothers and children and we are launching the urban health initiative in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uttar Pradesh in India to improve maternal and new born health services in the urban slum,” she said.
Ms Kerrigan stated that the foundation would work with government, stakeholders, donors and the private sector to assist poor women and children access cheap quality health care.
“We should never turn them away because of financial constraints. We should instead empower them so that they know where to take their children for vaccinations and where to get good medical care,” she explained.
She added that the urban poor had many needs that were not being met by the government and donors saying that the foundation would come in to sort this out through research.
“At the foundation we feel like we have an opportunity to really begin to build robust, evidence-based initiatives to help providers and communities better meet the needs of the urban poor,” she held.
Ms Kerrigan added that it was important for the urban poor to be involved in reproductive health programmes.
“This way we will find out what their needs are and how to best serve them especially in the areas of family planning, maternal and new born survival,” she noted.
She also challenged the government to provide quality family planning services to the urban poor in order to develop a vibrant economy.
“One of the most empowering things for women and men is to identify how many children they want to have and when they want to have them. Family planning will help not only meet their own needs but also educate the children that they have. By helping them have the quality families they want, they can also have a quality community and quality life,” she said.
Ms Kerrigan explained that the foundation would capitalise on the advantages of working in the urban areas and that it would also harness the private sector to activate demand in order to better serve the population.
“We are also interested in advocacy. How can we best work with civil society organisations to allow them the opportunity to monitor and be watch dogs to the urban poor so that they are offered the best services everyday?” she posed.
The Foundation was established by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda with the primary goals of enhancing healthcare and reduce extreme poverty globally.