Calls for Urgent Action in Kenya
Save the Children and World Vision Kenya today called on the Kenyan Government and Ministry of Health to take urgent steps for the realization of MDG 4. Speaking during a joint press conference in which the two agencies read a joint statement to begin the 500 day countdown, Country Director, Duncan Harvey said, “Far too many children in Kenya die of completely preventable causes. That 300 Kenyan children die daily as a result of completely preventable causes is completely unacceptable.”
Specific recommendations included calls for both the national and county governments to increase health budgetary allocations to 15% (as indicated in the Abuja declaration), investing in human resources for health to ensure there is a skilled worker health worker within reach of every mother and child, ensuring that primary health care is efficient, fair and cost effective in order to provide quality health care, and streamlining of health information management systems to capture and account for all births and deaths of children and mothers.
“In Kenya, progress has been made but a lot more still remains to be done. Unless we urgently start to tackle newborn deaths, there is a real danger that progress in reducing child deaths could stall and we will fail in our ambition to be the generation that can end all preventable child deaths,” Mr. Harvey said.
World Vision Kenya’s Deputy National Director, Pauline Okumu noted that government initiatives such as free maternity care in public hospitals, and the availability of pneumonia and rotavirus vaccines are laudable. “We note that Kenya has made recognizable progress in reducing child mortality in the past decade but today, Save the Children and World Vision Kenya have come together to flag this day and why the next 500 days are critical.”
She added, “It is unfortunate that that many children in Kenya live and die unseen, uncounted, unregistered and unable to access the health services that would save their lives.” Ms. Okumu observed that deaths of pregnant women and underfives, can be avoided through inexpensive, proven, and scalable methods that have succeeded elsewhere; promoting access to adequate nutrition and health care, particularly for the urban and rural poor.
Mr. Harvey urged the media to work together with the civil society to push the policy makers to be accountable to the Kenyan citizens as they promised in the Abuja Declaration. In this document, Kenya promised to increase the proportion of the health budget to that indicated in the Abuja declaration (15% of the overall budget) at national and county level so as to ensure more health workers are recruited, trained and deployed equitably and also ensure accountability for the funds allocated.
The two child-focused agencies partnered together to share a very clear message of the need for the Government of Kenya to renew its commitment and redouble efforts to make MDG 4 a reality in Kenya.
The mid-morning press briefing had good representation from major media houses and it was attended by over 20 journalists. One international media house South African Broadcasting Corporation also attended.