, KILIFI, Kenya, Dec 1 – The ‘Beyond Zero’ initiative will be used to combat HIV/AIDS besides reducing maternal and child mortality, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has said.
As the World AIDS Day was observed Monday, the First Lady said she has decided to leverage her position to mobilise leaders, communities and businesses towards ensuring that Kenyans – especially children – live lives free of HIV and no woman dies while ‘giving life’.
“When I was informed that over 5,500 Kenyan mothers die every year during birth and that 13,000 children get infected with HIV, I knew that this was simply unacceptable,” the First Lady said.
She spoke at Karisa Maitha Stadium when she handed over a ‘Beyond Zero’ fully kitted mobile clinic to Kilifi County. The mobile clinic – the 15th facility donated under the ‘Beyond Zero’ initiative – was received by Governor Amason Kingi on behalf of the people of Kilifi County.
Having launched the strategic framework for engagement of her office in HIV control and promotion of maternal, newborn and child health last year, the First Lady affirmed her resolve to boost healthcare services in the country.
She said the Friday launch of Kenya’s AIDS Strategic Framework to guide the HIV response for the next five years and the rolling out of a similar framework by Kilifi County will consolidate efforts against the scourge.
“As we celebrate the World AIDS Day, we have made much progress as a country. The HIV prevalence has reduced to 6 percent. HIV is not a death sentence anymore and almost 800,000 Kenyans are on HIV treatment today,” the First Lady said.
The First Lady commended the Kilifi Governor for his vision of an efficient and high quality healthcare system that is accessible, equitable and affordable for every resident of the county.
She, however, expressed concern that not much progress has been achieved in fighting stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.
“We must all strive to show love and compassion for those who are affected and infected with HIV,” she said.
As the country commemorates 16 days of gender activism, the First Lady called on the County Government of Kilifi to play a leading role in protecting girls from violence and early marriages.
The First Lady earlier toured the Kenya Medical Research Institute, one of the world’s premier health research institutions.
Speaking during the occasion, Governor Kingi thanked the First Lady for her ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign.
“You have a formidable partner in the County of Kilifi as far as efforts of ensuring no women dies while giving birth are concerned,” Governor Kingi said, adding the ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign has touched the hearts of many Kenyans.
The Governor commended the national Government’s free maternity initiative, saying the number of women giving birth in hospitals has increased from 33pc in 2010 to 63pc this year.
He disclosed that the County Government has decided to take maternity services to the grassroots and is constructing a maternity wing and a theatre in each sub-county. He added that 10 ambulances have also been purchased to facilitate provision of healthcare in the county.
On HIV/AIDS, the Governor commended Kilifi residents for helping to slow down the spread of the scourge.