NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 – The First Lady Half Marathon has been relaunched as the ‘Beyond Zero’ Half Marathon by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and the next edition is scheduled for March 10 next year after this year’s race was cancelled.
The First Lady kicked off the momentum towards the forthcoming marathon by registering as its first participant and receiving a new certificate changing the name of the event.
The spouses of Deputy President William Ruto and former PM Raila Odinga Mrs Rachel Ruto and Ida Odinga respectively also signed up to participate in the event scheduled for March 10 next year.
The Marathon relaunch-cum-stakeholders luncheon at State House, Nairobi, was attended by several First Ladies from the counties and representatives from the diplomatic corps, UN bodies, corporates, NGOS, Ministry of Health, donor agencies, pharmaceutical companies, the media and hospitals.
The inaugural marathon was held in March 2014 followed by two other successful events in 2015 and 2016 before taking a two year break.
Besides holding the events in Kenya, the First Lady also participated in the 2014 London marathon in followed by further training sessions in Japan and Addis Ababa.
The marathons are aimed at creating awareness and drawing the attention of stakeholders to the challenges of maternal and infant health in Kenya besides raising resources to increase access to healthcare for mothers and their babies.
The marathon is one of the key resource mobilization events for Beyond Zero, a flagship program aimed at saving the lives of mothers and children by preventing preventable maternal and infant deaths.
The First Lady said despite the successful milestones made by Beyond Zero, largely enabled by resources mobilized through the marathons and partners, her work towards quality and accessible healthcare, is far from being finished.
“Our work will require stepping up our joint efforts, re-dedicating our energies, and building our collective resolve towards a healthier and better future for Kenyans,” said the First Lady
“We started our work at a time when Kenya was considered to be among the most dangerous countries to give birth,’’ said the First Lady pointing out that health access, quality and care was the determinant cause for the unacceptable high mortality and morbidity rates among women and children at the time.
United Nations Resident Co-ordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Sidharth Charterjee said Beyond Zero had redefined the ecosystem of reproductive health in Kenya through good partnerships and convergency of policy.
He pledged that the UN family will continue working with the First Lady to ensure the success of both Beyond Zero and the Universal Health Coverage, whose pilot program President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to launch next week in Kisumu.
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the drop in HIV transmissions between mothers and babies was largely attributed to Beyond Zero’s elimination of Mother-to-Child-Transmission (eMTCT) program.
The relaunch of the marathon coincides with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which was marked on Monday.