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SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY MARGARET KENYATTA, FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE LAUNCH OF THE KENYA COUNTDOWN REPORT

Date: 
Thursday, 2016, April 28
Location: 
Source: 
The Presidency Kenya
Princess Zahra and The First Lady H.E. Margaret Kenyatta  2016-04-28

Thank you Dr. Kioko for that kind introduction.

Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Aga Khan University, thank you for your invitation; I am honoured to be part of the world-renowned work that your Centre of Excellence for Women and Child health is doing, to further the frontiers of modern medicine-through research, and to safeguard the health of women and children across Kenya, East Africa and the entire region.

I am encouraged to be among socially minded businesses’ represented in this room, who operate from the understanding that investing in the future of human life, will always prove profitable; it is a reminder to me that our mothers—from whom we came, and our children—for whom we live and to whom we will leave our work and our world, are a common factor that binds us together.

Today, we launch the Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case study, that will provide the much needed data, to help policy makers, and stakeholders, with a roadmap that will help accelerate and provide answers to improve maternal and child health, as well as achieve higher health national targets. Countdown to 2015 is a global movement established in

2003 as a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration, in response to a growing recognition that achieving the health-related MDGs would demand radical changes in scale and scope. Countdown tracks progress in maternal, newborn & child health in the 75 highest burden countries to promote action and accountability, and follow through on commitments to the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Through the Beyond Zero campaign which I launched in 2014 – 4 marathons and 2 years later, the campaign has taught me one big lesson: the priceless power of positive collaboration—and I am so pleased to see that same kind of collaboration at play here today.

Aga Khan University has made a mark as one of the world’s leaders in maternal and child health research. Your work provides our governments with essential evidenced-based analysis to be used for application and uptake among practitioners and healthcare workers. It also builds the capacity of health systems by educating specialists, nurses, midwives and students learning in our universities.

I congratulate the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery in Nairobi for contributing towards the pool of physicians in family medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics and child health; these are future leaders joining in the fight to save the lives of women and children.
I personally wish to appreciate Aga Khan Hospital as a strong supporter and partner of the Beyond Zero initiative, and the campaign against cervical, breast and prostate cancer. Thank you for the 200 free radiation therapy services offered as part of your contribution to the First Lady’s Half Marathon 2016.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The success of collaborative efforts is again demonstrated by the contributors, who worked with Aga Khan University, to produce critical and timely health information like SickKids Centre for Global Child Health of Toronto, the University of Nairobi, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Government of Canada, Family Care International, the UN Family and the US fund.

This important forum has presented all of us as stakeholders with an opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced in achieving maternal and child health targets, to refine our shared strategy for meeting those goals, to celebrate the successes we have made, and to renew our collective commitment to finishing this race well.

As a global community, whenever we revive our commitment to a cause, we bring energy, enthusiasm, clarity of direction and a fierce sense of focus back on board—our initiatives are injected with a new sense of purpose.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Also a reality is our human nature to be, over time, easily overtaken by lethargy, and lured into the dangerous lull of inactivity. In those times, it takes fora like this to remind us of what’s important, and of what’s at stake when we don’t give progress our biggest push.
Fortunately, there has been incredible progress both in Kenya and across the world in decreasing maternal and child mortality. But more remains to be done. It is deeply encouraging that women are receiving better ante-natal care today, than at any other time in history. The rate of maternal and child mortality has decreased, and more children are being immunised today, than at the turn of the century. More work has also gone into educating mothers on how to care for their children.

We must celebrate the success we as a country, as a continent and as a world, have realised. Much has been achieved, and our progress must inspire us to keep going because the work is not yet done.
We must close- the- loop in healthcare, and seriously address non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure that have taken over many lives and families of our people. This month we celebrate World Autism month; this condition is gaining prevalence in Kenya and around the world. More investment is required to improve early diagnosis of children born with intellectual and physical challenges. More research, more capacity building, and more support is required to better equip our doctors, care givers and families who play a huge supportive role.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is still far too much disparity, and inequity in access to healthcare. There are still too many hurdles that some women must leap to access the affordable care that is their right. And there is still death. One death, in the giving life, will always be one death too many. One child’s death, which could have been prevented, is a heart-wrenching tragedy. It is a bleeding of the world’s potential, hope and future.
Today, we have been reminded of that.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have heard facts – we have figures. We must remember that these numbers are people’s stories. We must be moved once again to a pledge to stand together to protect our mothers and to protect our children.
We have been presented with key actions which include: health systems strengthening; scaling up of community-level interventions; deliberate health targets for marginal poor populations; reducing of financial barriers, governance and protection of vulnerable groups. These actions must be our shared focus.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are close to the finish line. It is now my pleasure to officially launch the Kenya Countdown Report.

Thank you for your attention.


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