NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has commended Safaricom for spending Sh50 million to refurbish the neonatal unit at Kenyatta National Hospital.
Speaking today during the hand-over of the rehabilitated neonatal unit to Kenyatta National Hospital, the First Lady termed the project as an affirmation of the Government’s commitment to promoting Public-Private Partnerships in providing local solutions to challenges affecting Kenyans.
“This is the first Kenya @50 legacy project that has been completed and we are grateful to Safaricom Foundation for investing Sh50 million in the rehabilitation of this newborn unit,” she said.
Sponsored by the Safaricom Foundation, the neonatal unit is one of the eight legacy projects started through public-private partnership last year to mark the country’s Jubilee anniversary of independence.
The First Lady said the refurbished neonatal ward is a great milestone for Kenyatta National Hospital, whose infrastructure is strained by the high number of patients seeking services.
“It is only prudent therefore to ensure that the infrastructure in this facility is up to standard to ensure the survival of the newborns,” she said.
Statistical data indicate that more than 100,000 children die before their fifth birthday here in Kenya largely due to preventable causes, the First Lady said as she explained her ‘Beyond Zero’ objective.
“This project is close to my heart as it complements what we are trying to achieve through the ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign,” she said.
The First Lady said the ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign aims at mitigating the high death rates from preventable causes among mothers and children while accelerating the country’s gains in reducing the fatalities.
Adding, “As you are aware, this year the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will expire and we will move to the newly created Sustainable Development Goals.”
She urged Kenyans to take stock of the public-private partnership contribution towards the achievement of MDGs set 15 years ago.
“We need to ask ourselves what we have done as the public and private sector, towards the realisation of the MDG’s,” the First Lady said.
Kenya, she noted, has made great strides towards the achievement of MDG 4 and 5 of reducing child mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015, and reducing by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.
She called on Kenyans to scale up their support for mothers and children through the Beyond Zero initiative so as to reach zero maternal and child deaths in the country.
“Having not achieved the set goals and targets does not mean that we give up. We have to persist until we get to zero maternal and child deaths,” the First Lady said.
She commended Kenyans, the private sector and international friends for their support towards the ‘Beyond Zero’campaign for a healthier Kenya.
Through the initiative, the First Lady said, 18 mobile clinics have already been delivered to counties with the highest maternal, child mortality and HIV burden in the country.
She called for unity in the noble cause and invited Kenyans to participate in 2ndEdition of the First Lady’s Half Marathon on March 8.
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia announced that the Government will this week sign major contracts to install health equipment worth Sh38 billion in County hospitals.
He said part of the funding amounting Ksh 21 billion will be used to purchase and install cancer treatment facilities while Sh4.5 billion will be used to install kidney treatment facilities in all County hospitals.
He said the move will help decongest Kenyatta National Hospital and ensure it remains only a referral hospital.
Other speakers included Sports, Culture and Arts Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore, Kenyatta National Hospital Chief Executive Officer Lily Koros Tare and the Acting Chairman of the Hospitals Board Jackson Mpario.
They all commended the First Lady for taking the lead in championing for child and maternal health in the country, saying her efforts are bearing fruit.