Turning the Tide on HIV, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Kenya
NAIROBI, Friday 24 January 2014 – Today, the First Lady hosted a breakfast meeting for corporate institutions, donors and individuals at the Safari Park Hotel, to increase support for maternal, newborn and child health in the country, through her newly established Beyond Zero Foundation. This support will build on on-going efforts by the Government of Kenya and other partners to increase access to life saving high impact interventions to promote the survival of our mothers and children. Every year over 5,500 women in Kenya die due to pregnancy related complications. In 2012 alone, over 100,000 children below the age of five died before their fifth birthday, largely due to preventable causes. In the same year, there were 13,000 new HIV infections among children, of whom 62% did not access lifesaving antiretroviral drugs. These statistics are alarming and unacceptable, considering that it is possible to sharply reduce the number of deaths among children and women through high quality, low cost interventions. The coverage of these interventions remains low across the country. Currently in Kenya, 15% of deaths among children under the age of five are as a result of HIV related complications. Other leading causes of death among children under the age of five are pneumonia, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia, diarrhoea and malaria. Among women, 20% of all deaths are a result of HIV related complications, while other leading causes include bleeding after giving birth, disorders caused by high blood pressure, infections in pregnancy, obstructed labour and complications from abortion. Although Kenya has witnessed improvements in overall health targets, especially in reduction of deaths among adults, infants and children below 5 years over the last decade, much still needs to be done save the lives of mothers and children. In light of this, H.E. the First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, has embarked on a mission to combat this state of maternal and childhood mortality through the recently launched ‘Strategic Framework for the engagement of the First Lady in HIV control and promotion of maternal, newborn and child health in Kenya.’ This strategy aims to mobilize and provide leadership towards ending new HIV infections among children, and reduce the number of deaths among women and children in Kenya. The strategic framework focuses on five key areas: (i) Accelerating HIV and AIDS programmes, (ii) Influencing investments in high impact interventions to promote maternal and child health and HIV control, (iii) Mobilizing men as clients, partners and agents of change, (iv) Involving communities to address barriers to accessing HIV, maternal and child health services and (v) Providing leadership accountability and recognition to accelerate the attainment of HIV, Maternal and Child health targets. To further support this cause the First Lady will participate in the 2014 London Marathon. As a precursor to this event, on March 9, 2014 she will host the inaugural First Lady’s Half Marathon, whose purpose is to mobilize citizens and friends of Kenya to support her cause. Registration for this marathon begins on 2 February 2014, during a training session with HE the First Lady at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC). The two events will raise awareness and funds to improve maternal, newborn and children’s health through the provision of essential health interventions that save women’s and children’s lives, particularly to those currently not being reached by available health services. The time for action is now!

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