NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has taken her “Beyond Zero Campaign” to the counties with a call to spouses of Governors to support the initiative to reduce deaths from preventable causes.
The First Lady, who hosted the County First Ladies for a dinner at State House Nairobi, urged them to use their strategic positions to raise awareness of preventable diseases that threaten the survival of women and children.
“We have all heard the figures. These are not just statistics. These are our fellow Kenyan sisters and children who die largely as a result of pregnancy and HIV related complications which are preventable,” she said.
The First Lady said while the Government was committed to reducing the mortality rates in the country, more needed to be done to ensure that every birth remained a promise for a better and brighter future.
She regretted that many women did not get the chance to hold healthy babies in their hands due to inaccessible health care outlets within their localities.
“Regardless of anyone’s status in society, it is unbelievably moving to hold your healthy baby in your arms. Knowing that you hold the future of your family, the community and ultimately of this nation in your hands. If they do survive the delivery, they are frightened that their baby is going to die on the first day, or in the first few weeks of life,” the First Lady said.
She added, “This reality saddens me, but what saddens me even more is the knowledge that these mothers and children are suffering and dying unnecessarily in this country due to preventable causes”.
The First Lady is hosting the First Lady’s Half Marathon on March 9 this year and she will also participate in the April 2014 London Marathon. The race will raise awareness and funds to improve access to better health care through mobile clinics.
The strategy aims to mobilise and provide leadership towards ending new HIV infections among children, and to reduce the number of deaths among women and children in Kenya, she added.
“On this day, I will run to make a difference. I will run to raise awareness about the possibility of a healthy Nation through elimination of HIV transmission from mothers to children and ensuring the survival of mothers and children,” the First Lady said.
She asked Governors’ spouses to partner with her in this worthy cause and to be the champions of change for women and children in the counties and the nation.
The First Lady said: “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset Kenya can ever have. Can I count on you to participate and mobilize participants from your counties to join me for this worthy cause?”
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Health service delivery is the most devolved under the current constitution with Sh68 billion of the ministry’s finances moved to the counties.
Macharia said through partnerships with the ministry of Interior and National Coordination and other Kenyans, the recent polio vaccination campaign exceeded the target by 108 percent.
The Governors’ spouses assured the First lady of their total support to initiatives aimed at reducing women and children’s deaths from preventable causes across the country.
They pledged to mobilise participants from the counties to join the First Lady’s ‘Beyond Zero campaign’ half marathon to raise awareness on preventable diseases that threaten the survival of women and children – PSCU.