, MOMBASA, Kenya, Nov 29 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has commended the county government of Mombasa for scaling up efforts against HIV/AIDS.
Speaking on Saturday when she handed over a ‘Beyond Zero’ mobile clinic to Mombasa, the First Lady assured of her commitment to partnering with county governments in taking healthcare services closer to Kenyans – especially to mothers and children.
The fully kitted mobile clinic – the 14th donated under the ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign –was received by Governor Ali Hassan Joho on behalf of the people of Mombasa County.
The First Lady appreciated the ongoing expansion of delivery facilities in the county to cope with the increased demand following the waiver of delivery fee in all Government facilities.
She added: “It is our collective duty to address and provide safe and dignified environments for mothers, children and our communities.”
The First Lady said the ‘Beyond Zero’ mobile clinics donated to counties will provide services such as vaccination, ante natal care, HIV testing and treatment.
Noting the HIV prevalence rate of 7.4 percent in Mombasa county is higher than the national average, the First Lady expressed optimism that the mobile clinic will boost efforts and turn the tide against AIDS.
“Disappointingly, only slightly more than 50 percent of HIV positive pregnant women attend the four recommended antenatal visits in Mombasa. These figures have financial implications for the county’s resources as more funds will be required to reduce mother to child transmission and to provide treatment and care,” the First Lady said.
She expressed the need for Mombasa county to also step up provision of treatment for drugs addicts and sex workers, whose HIV prevalence is 2 – 3 times higher than the national average.
“These are our children and they need our compassion and support as we strengthen rehabilitation,” the First Lady said.
She also urged parents to take care of their teenage children during the holiday season to safeguard them against drug abuse.
The First Lady disclosed that she decided to launch a Strategic Framework for the Office of the First Lady for engagement in HIV Control and Promotion of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Kenya last year when she learnt that over 5,500 Kenyan mothers die every year during childbirth while over 100,000 children die early in life.
She said it was equally shocking that over 13,000 children get infected with HIV from their mothers annually yet there are means to prevent it.
“As a mother I decided that the vulnerability of our children especially girls must be mitigated. I am still committed to being part of the solution,” the First Lady said.
Noting that Mombasa is a melting pot of cultures, she urged the residents to live together in harmony.
Speaking during the occasion, Governor Joho pledged Mombasa county’s support to the First Lady’s efforts to take health services closer to the people.
The Governor directed his government officials to ensure they provided five more mobile clinics so that each of the six sub-counties are served by a mobile facility.
He warned that health workers caught napping on the job in the county will be disciplined according to the laid down regulations.
Governor Joho also cautioned the media against misrepresenting facts, saying the media should not be used to divide Kenyans on tribal and religious grounds.
Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa said leaders in Mombasa are united in ensuring that there is peace and security.
“We have joined hands because we know security is a key component of development,” Marwa said.
He urged the media to guard against sensational reporting, saying there is no tension in Mombasa contrary to what has appeared in sections of the press.
Other speakers included Mombasa Women Representative Mishi Mboko, Nominated Senator Emma Mbura, Housing Finance Corporation of Kenya Managing Director Frank Ireri and Medical Services Director Dr. Nicholas Muraguri.