Kenya, 1 April 2014: Setting the pace for the survival of children and women – First Lady runs to save lives
By Daisy Serem
1 April 2014, Kenya – When it comes to leading the way in putting an end to preventable deaths of mothers and their new-borns, Kenya’s First Lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta has definitely set the pace. Her Excellency ran a remarkable 21 kilometres during the inaugural First Lady’s Half Marathon in Nairobi, Kenya on March 9.
She had the overwhelming support of over 30,000 participants who joined the First Lady in the marathon. This event is part of the Beyond Zero Campaign which seeks to bring prenatal and postnatal medical treatment closer to less privileged women and children through mobile clinics. The campaign will also combat the scourge of HIV by supporting Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT).
Over 5,500 women in Kenya die every year due to pregnancy and its complications. While over 100,000 children do not get to celebrate their first birthday. For the First Lady and her supporters these statistics are unacceptable. She braved the sweltering heat and put a spotlight on how to end these preventable deaths.
“We run for the elimination of HIV transmission from mother to child. We run to raise funds to increase access to better healthcare through mobile clinics that will bring the services closer to Kenyans,” said Mrs. Kenyatta in her inspiring speech. “
“Today, we run to keep mothers and new-borns alive. We run because every mother should be able to hold her baby, and that baby should live to be strong and have many more birthdays.”
The Beyond Zero campaign plans to raise Kenya Shillings 500 million for maternal, new-born and child health through the provision of mobile clinics, incubators, point of care diagnostic kits for early infant diagnostics of HIV and oxygen concentrators.
To date, Kenya Shillings 200 million has been raised through the First Lady’s initiative. Forty seven mobile clinics will be purchased for each county to ultimately reduce child mortality and maternal deaths.
The UN joint team on HIV and AIDS, in which UNICEF plays a crucial role, is supporting this initiative in partnership with the Government’s Ministry of Health. UNICEF staff also rose to the challenge and participated in the marathon in large numbers seizing the opportunity to make a First Call for Children.
Marcel Rudasingwa, the UNICEF Kenya Representative who ran the full 21 kilometres commended the First Lady for her timely initiative.
“The country has made progress in saving children but one cannot ignore those thousands of deprived and forgotten mothers and new-borns who die every day of unnecessary causes. Kenya has an extraordinary opportunity to do the right thing,” he said.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has set her sights on the renowned London Marathon where she will run to raise visibility and more funds on a global scale. She will be accompanied by senior Government officials as a show of solidarity.
The resounding success of the First Lady’s Marathon has given her greater impetus to advocate for the life-saving cause of children and women, as she calls on partners to support her.
“Together we will fulfil the dream of cherishing and nurturing every human life. Let us continue working towards a healthy Kenya.”
More stories from Kenya
More on maternal and newborn health