We can end preventable maternal and child deaths in Africa by 2030, says First Lady Margaret Kenyatta

NAIROBI, 29 October 2018, (PSCU) —First Lady Margaret Kenyatta today expressed strong confidence that the African continent can end preventable maternal and child deaths by 2030.

She said this goal is not out of reach although there is still much to be done for the continent to achieve zero maternal and child deaths.

“We are committed to this trajectory because there is still a great deal of work to be done.  But the goal we are pursuing is not out of reach,” said the First Lady

Speaking when she officially opened the 2nd International Conference on Maternal, New-born and Child Health (MNCH) at a Nairobi hotel, 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

The First Lady underscored the need to maintain the current focused momentum to address the health needs of women and children including continued investments.

The 2nd MNCH conference under the aegis of the African Union Commission 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.

The three-day event 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.

The theme of the conference is: “maintaining momentum and focus towards ending preventable maternal and child deaths by 2030-sustainable path towards Africa’s transformation”.

The First Lady said there is need to take stock and appreciate the achievements made so far towards achieving zero maternal and child deaths in Africa including the huge investments made by respective governments to address the health needs of women and children.

“Collectively, we have broadened our scope of work to pay attention to issues that underpin vulnerability of women and children,” she said.

The First Lady said women health is underpinned by a myriad of issues covering socio-economic, political and cultural realities which differ across communities and regions.

“Let us also reconsider the setbacks that harmful cultural practices such as FGM and early child marriages play to erode our gains,” said the First Lady.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the country has made remarkable gains regarding the health of mothers and children.

She  however called for more innovative ways to end maternal mortality and child deaths across the continent.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Dr. Siddharth Chatterjee lauded 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).

Africa Union Commissioner for Social Affairs Ms Amira Elfadil and Charge D’ Affaires Susie Kitchens represented the AU and the British High Commission respectively.

UHC inter-governmental committee co-chair and Isiolo Governor Mohammed Kuti and 30 County First Ladies also attended the conference.

The First MNCH Conference in Africa  was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2013.