SIAYA, Kenya, Nov 19 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has urged residents of Siaya County to scale up HIV testing to link the infected and affected to early care and treatment.
The First Lady said the HIV prevalence rate in the county is worrying with 128,568 people living with AIDS, 12 percent of whom are children by close of last year.
She spoke at Siaya stadium when she presented her 12th fully kitted Beyond Zero mobile clinic to the County Government.
“I am here to provide a fully equipped mobile clinic that will complement the efforts that your County Government is putting in place to provide better healthcare for Kenyans,” she said.
The First Lady admitted that the campaign she is championing to make a difference in the health of mothers and children is an extremely challenging journey that requires undivided attention.
She urged parents to educate the youth on the dangers of drug and substance abuse that remains a major contributing factor to the spread of HIV/AIDS and many unnecessary deaths amongst the most productive members of the society.
She stressed the need for health stakeholders to focus extra attention to maternal and early childhood care in order to reduce deaths from preventable causes.
The First Lady said statistics from a United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) report on Kenya released this week are worrying.
She said Kenya recorded 6,632 maternal deaths last year with 488 deaths per 100,000 live births recorded within the same period.
“The report further says most of these maternal deaths are due to causes directly related to pregnancy and childbirth, along with preventable and controllable diseases such as malaria, diabetes, hepatitis and anaemia,” she said.
The First Lady described the trend as worrying and a major setback to efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 that relate to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.
On the county’s development, she challenged the leadership to think of innovative ways of value addition for various local produce to enable farmers reap maximum benefit from their toil.
Saying the county is blessed with fertile farm land, the First Lady stressed the need for policy to guide developmental activities in the county and address various environmental concerns.
“Some of these concerns are rampant charcoal burning, increased encroachment on wetlands and sand harvesting and rock excavation along River Nzoia,” she said.
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga said his government has set aside Sh55 million this financial year to strengthen community health systems in the county.
Saying improvement of infrastructure and provision of equipment is not enough to improve on service delivery; the Governor stressed the need for health workers in the county to develop positive attitudes towards work.
“Feedback from patients in maternity wards indicates that some health workers have bad attitudes towards them. You have two months to change or you are relieved of your duties,” he told health workers.