, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 4 – When she finished the First Lady’s Half Marathon in March, Margaret Kenyatta was handed the keys to a mobile clinic donated by General Motors, got behind the wheel and revved the engine.
On Friday, she was doing the handing over and Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu was doing the revving: “I know it has been a long wait, not just for me, but also the Kenyans who have been wondering what happened to that promise.”
A promise to equip each of the 47 counties with a mobile clinic as part of her Beyond Zero Campaign; a campaign to end child and maternal mortality through, “improving access to health care for mothers and children,” she said.
Thousands of women and children who, Mruttu said, would be grateful for the shorter, timely trip to a medical service provider, “We have population of about 300,000 people that live on a land mass of about 17,000 Km2 so people sometimes have to walk for more than 20 Kilometres to access a medical facility. In future we expect that we shall put up more facilities, but that will take time.”
Counties with the highest mortality rates, the First Lady said, would be given priority with Sh110 million in the bank and Sh500 million needed to equip all the counties, “I urge other like-minded partners to come on board, because there still remains a lot to be done.”
But given the First Lady’s efforts and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s June 1, 2013 declaration that maternity services would be provided free of charge in all public health facilities, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia was optimistic that the country is off to a good start.
“In February when Connie (Gakonyo) and the team were planning for the marathon, it just looked like a dream. I said yes, we shall do it, but you know inside you say are you sure it will happen,” he joked in a speech reminiscent of his March 9 marathon day speech.
And again, like they did on the marathon day, the First Lady, Connie and their team lined up for a commemorative picture of what the First Lady said was a, “great day.”
A day on which she couldn’t resist a second tour of the mobile clinic, this time as a guide to her daughter Ngina Kenyatta once the protocols had been observed, the cameras were off and the red carpet rolled up.