Susie Kitchens, the UK Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, yesterday joined the 2nd International Conference on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (ICMNCH) in Africa during which she spoke about how the British and Kenyan governments are working together to improve health services for all.
The theme of the conference, held at the Safari Park Hotel, was ‘Maintaining momentum and focus towards ending preventable maternal and child deaths by 2030 and a sustainable path towards Africa’s transformation’.
Under the aegis of the African Union Commission, the conference has brought together over 1000 delegates, technical experts and government health officials from 25 African countries . It is also being attended by various United Nations bodies, and several Foreign Missions.
Over three days, delegates will deliberate on a raft of issues including leadership, accountability and governance for MNCH, early infant diagnosis of HIV; a continental priority for an Aids-free generation, sexual reproductive health and rights and breaking the cycle of early marriages as key to ending teen pregnancies among other health issues affecting women, girls and children.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta arrives at Safari Park Hotel to preside over the official opening of the 2nd International Conference on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. #MNCH pic.twitter.com/OpxLNq6nRK
— State House Kenya (@StateHouseKenya) October 29, 2018
Opening the conference, Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said that while this goal was not out of reach, there was still a “great deal of work to be done”.
The First Lady called for the involvement of men in initiatives addressing the health of mothers and their children.
“We must encourage increased male involvement in MNCH and commit to strengthening our entire health systems in pursuit of universal health for all,’’ she said.
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the country has made remarkable gains regarding the health of mothers and children, but called for more innovative ways to end maternal mortality and child deaths across the continent.
United Nations Resident Coordinator Dr. Siddharth Chatterjee used his address to laud the focused commitment by the First Lady and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership to lower maternal deaths and child mortality in Kenya over the last five years.
He said efforts by the First Lady and the political will by the national government through proactive initiatives had paid huge dividends in the health of mothers and babies as the country embarks on the journey towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Speaking at the event, Ms Kitchens said that the UK is fully behind Kenya’s efforts to end maternal child deaths as outlined in the Kenyan government’s Big 4 agenda.
“By injecting funding worth Ksh 8 billion over the past 5 years, we have supported counties to prioritise and deliver reproductive health services,” she said.
“The UK supports research to inform our own and partners’ investments in health systems. We are happy to note that maternal & child health indicators are improving, for example through support for emergency obstetric & neonatal care,” Ms Kitchens added.
Tweeting after her speech, the Deputy High Commissioner said: “As a student of public health and a Mum, this is a topic that really resonates. UK supporting Kenyan women to have babies by choice not chance and give kids a healthy start in life.”