First Lady launches new campaign to promote child health
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Friday morning launched the Help a Child Reach 5 campaign which seeks to promote hygiene for mothers, children and new-borns.
The campaign which was launched in a Nairobi hotel is funded by Unilever Company in conjunction with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities-UNFPA.
The campaign aims at raising the profile of handwashing with soap as a high impact intervention for advancing maternal, new-born and child health.
The campaign is expected to reach 12 million Kenyans and 1 billion people world-wide.
Speaking during the launch of the campaign, the First Lady said women wield incredible power in influencing the society and hence can play a leading role in safeguarding community health.
“Women yield incredible power as child bearers, wives, leaders, educators and workers. Women build homes, feed and clothe their families, and silently influence communities,” said the First Lady.
She pointed out that women can accelerate the country’s goal in having a healthy and robust population.
“As mothers wash their hands before cooking or caring for children, as children wash their hands before eating, as mid-wives wash their hands before delivering children or cutting umbilical cords—our country will be better,” she said.
The First Lady commended Unilever Lifebuoy’s partnership with AMREF Health Africa, UNFPA and the Government of Kenya for the ambitious ‘Help a Child Reach Five’ campaign.
“I am encouraged that you are looking for practical ways to change our country and the world. Through this Lifebuoy campaign, you are working to encourage a simple habit: hand washing,” added the First Lady.
She called for more partnerships and champions to join hands with the national and county governments to help leapfrog healthcare in Kenya, Africa and the world.
“Through the Beyond Zero campaign, l have experienced the power of collective action. So I truly believe that when we join hands we can do so much more and so much faster and better,” said the First Lady.
The launch was also attended by country representatives of UNFPA and Amref Health Africa.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr. Cleopa Mailu said maternal and child mortality remain a major challenge globally.
He however commended the First Lady for her commitment in championing the campaign to attain zero maternal and child deaths saying simple approaches put in the health sector make a huge difference.
UNFPA Representative in Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee commended the First Lady for being in the forefront championing the course of maternal and child health.
He recalled the event of two years ago when the First Lady challenged and convinced governors of 15 counties with the highest maternal and child mortality to take concrete steps to stop the trend.
“She challenged them to put the spotlight on adolescent girls, she challenged them to support and advance adolescent health in their programmes,” he said.
He said as a result of her initiative, policy makers and stakeholders in both the public and private sector including civil societies have included in their planning the agenda concerning lives of women and children.
The Unilever Chief Executive Officer Paul Pollman said changing the handwashing behaviour of one billion people worldwide by 2020 is part of the company’s sustainable living plan.
He said the act of handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective, yet overlooked way to save the lives of children.
During the event panel discussion was held where panelist who included medical experts extolled the benefits of handwashing with soap.
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