Gov’t committed to improving maternal health – Uhuru

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated his government’s commitment to improve healthcare in the country.

The head of state said Kenya will undertake all necessary actions to make sure maternal and child deaths are prevented, even as he pledged to increase government spending on healthcare services to make it accessible and more affordable.

President Kenyatta was speaking during a joint meeting with other heads of states and governments and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon during the launch of Global Strategy for Women, Children and Adolescent’s health in New York.

“I pledge to take the needed sustainable actions to end all preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents within a generation and ensure their well-being, and we hold ourselves accountable for our collective progress towards this goal,” said the president.

He added that Kenya commits itself to progressively increase government allocation to health with particular focus on women, children, adolescents and HIV to meet WHO global recommendations.

President Kenyatta further noted that the government will continue providing free maternal and child health care services in addition to implementing laws, policies and strategies that support gender equality and women empowerment.

He called on other nations to also increase their political and financial commitments to deliver on the goal to end all preventable maternal, child and adolescent deaths within a generation and ensure their wellbeing.

“Momentum for progress and change for women and children has grown steadily in Kenya, with improvements in skilled deliveries and in the contraceptive prevalence, which rose from 44 per cent to 62 per cent and 46 per cent to 58 per cent respectively,” said the president.

He stated that during the same period, child mortality in Kenya has decreased from 74 per 1,000 live births to 52 per 1,000 live birth and neonatal mortality decreased from 31 per 1,000 live births to 22 per 1,000 live births.

Speaking at the launch, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced that  $25 billion will be released in initial commitments to end preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents by 2030.

In a press release preceding the launch, the UN said Safaricom, MSD, Philips, GlaxoSmithKline, Huawei and Kenya Healthcare Federation have signed on to a new public-private partnership to harness the strength, resources and expertise of the private sector to improve the health of over 3.5 million women, newborns, children and adolescents.

“The initiative is aligned with the Global Financing Facility, in close collaboration with the Government of Kenya, the World Bank, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and other partners,” Ban Ki-Moon said.

Other leaders who expressed their commitment at the launch included Prime Minister Hailemaryam Desalegn of Ethiopia and President Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi.

The First Lady of China, Ms Peng Liyuan and Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore also spoke at the function.

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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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