, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – Former British Premier Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie Blair, has acknowledged First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s efforts at reducing maternal and child mortality in Kenya through her Beyond Zero campaign.
Cherie said the effort was commendable given what has been Kenya’s high maternal and child mortality rates, as has been the case in most African countries, and called on other First Ladies to take up the challenge.
“I know from my own experience that one of the key ways in which wives of Prime Ministers and First Ladies can make a real difference is by using their unique position to promote good causes. There could be few causes more worthwhile than this one and even fewer first ladies who would be both able and prepared to run 42 kms in their support. Well done,” she said.
Cherie also acknowledged the role played by Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and Governors in this effort calling on the latter to come up with home-grown means of further accelerating the effort.
“With their local knowledge they can judge which particular solutions would work best in their locality and which interventions can effectively be scaled up to improve the delivery of the right services for the mothers and adolescent girls,” Cherie, who has a foundation for women in her name said.
Adolescent girls, she explained, being particularly vulnerable to birth complications if they had undergone female genital mutilation and forced into early marriages.
In her time as the UK Premier’s wife and after, Cherie was a vocal women’s advocate even joining Kenyan women to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2010.
Prior to running the 42 kms of the London Marathon, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hosted the First Lady’s Half Marathon to not only gear up for the full marathon but to more importantly raise funds and awareness for the cause.
So far the First Lady has managed to raise Sh110 million in the effort aimed at equipping all 47 counties with a mobile clinic each at a cost of Sh500 million in total.
And true to her pledge, the First Lady handed over the keys to the first mobile clinic to Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu in July with the next set to go to Samburu.
The Beyond Zero campaign compliments the presidential order that guarantees charge-free maternal services at all public health facilities.
A directive Macharia said, that has resulted in a decline in maternal and child mortality since it came into effect on June 1, 2013.