By Kazungu Chai (PSCU)
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has expressed steadfastness in her efforts to take healthcare services closer to Kenyans in all parts of the country.
Mrs Kenyatta emphasized her commitment to her promise of ensuring that the people of Kenya, especially mothers and children, are protected from preventable illnesses and deaths.
“I believe that everyone – girls and boys, men and women – must have a chance to reach their full potential; an opportunity to pursue their dreams and contribute to the development of their community. This is all possible with good education and access to quality healthcare services,” the First Lady said.
The First Lady was speaking at Makutano Stadium, West Pokot County, when she officially launched the 3rd Beyond Zero Medical Safari.
“I am deeply touched to see so many women, men and children participate in this medical camp, many of you coming from far and wide,” said the First Lady who was visibly moved by the testimonies of some of the beneficiaries of the Beyond Zero Initiative.
The Medical Safaris are at the core of the First Lady’s Beyond Zero 2nd Strategic Framework (2018-2022) that is anchored on the principle of “leaving no one behind.
The framework is pegged on a life-cycle approach targeting pregnant women and new-borns, infants and children, adolescents and young people, men, older persons and persons with disabilities.
The wider objective of the Medical Safaris, which is part of the second phase of the First Lady’s efforts to boost delivery of healthcare services in the country, is to contribute towards the achievement of Universal Healthcare Coverage, one of the pillars of the Government’s Big 4 Agenda.
The first phase of the Beyond Zero Initiative included the delivery of fully equipped mobile clinics to all the 47 counties.
The First Lady voiced her support for all efforts geared towards curbing harmful cultural practices that affect the well-being of women and girls among them early marriages and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
During the four-day medical safari which started on May 7th and ended on May 10th, close to 7,000 residents of West Pokot received free treatment for various ailments including fistula surgeries.
Among the organizations that provided services during the medical safari were the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, AMREF Health Africa, Kenya Medical Training College, Cure Kenya, Phillips East Africa which provided maternal screening and NHIF that registered pregnant women for the Linda Mama programme.
Others were Kapenguria County Referral Hospital, Kisii Eye Hospital which provided eye care while Beth Mugo Cancer Foundation, Women for Cancer and Africa Cancer Foundation screened for breast and cervical cancer among women and prostate cancer among men respectively.
The First Lady, who had earlier opened a reproductive health theatre and commissioned a cryotherapy machine at the Kapenguria County Referral Hospital before launching a satellite blood bank constructed and equipped at a cost of Kshs 40.1 million, commended the West Pokot County Government for giving provision of healthcare services the attention it deserves.
“I commend the efforts the county leadership has made towards increasing the number of nurses and resource allocation to its health facilities, including the new satellite blood bank, so that this county can achieve better health outcomes and continue to save many more lives,” the First Lady said.
“These are valuable steps in leading this region to become a model centre of excellence in healthcare services,” she added.
She pointed out that the Beyond Zero medical safaris are aimed at bolstering county government efforts to bring healthcare services closer to the people and respond adequately to critical health challenges that affect the poor and vulnerable populations.
The First Lady praised the partnership of stakeholders in the health sector including the National and County Governments, the UN family, NGO’s, the private sector and the media, saying it is a testament of the country’s collective aspiration to achieve Universal Health Coverage for all Kenyans.
“I am confident that by working hard together we will, as a nation, achieve our health targets and leave no one behind,” she pointed out as she thanked County First Ladies for their continued support of the Beyond Zero Initiative.
To scale up the fight against obstetric fistula, the First Lady launched the National Female Genital Fistula Strategic Framework, the National Training Curriculum for Health Care Workers and the National Training Curriculum for Community Health Volunteers.
The three documents are aimed at consolidating national efforts in addressing the problem of fistula.
She expressed optimism that the National Strategic Framework for Fistula will strengthen the resolve to eradicate the burden of obstetric fistula in Kenya.
“This will accelerate our efforts to provide our women and girls access to treatment as well as help us to better plan for budget inclusion and training of medical staff to increase capacity of our health workers in this area,” she said.
The First Lady also launched the West Pokot Business Plan for the elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission (eMTCT) of HIV which outlines how the county will increase resource allocation for eMTCT.
The event saw the signing of the Facility Improvement Bill for West Pokot County by Governor Prof. John Lonyangapuo. The Bill, the first of its kind for county governments, is set to revolutionize the improvement of health facilities in the county.
Speaking during the occasion, Governor Lonyangapuo thanked First Lady for her support in the provision of healthcare services in West Pokot and singled out the Beyond Zero mobile clinic as a key health asset to the county.
County First Ladies Lydia Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Priscilla Oparanya (Kakamega), Elizabeth Ongwae (Kisii), Ivy Kiptis (Baringo), Sheila Sang (Nandi), Dorothy Nyong’o (Kisumu) and Caroline Wangamati (Bungoma) also attended the event.