First Lady Calls For Renewed Commitment To Shield Infants From HIV And Syphilis

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First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has called for a renewed commitment to the elimination of mother-to-child transmission (eMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis in the country.

The First Lady emphasized the need for concerted efforts to accelerate the progress made towards achieving eMTCT through promotion of stronger partnerships.

“I am convinced, that our successes rely on harmonized efforts from both the public and private sectors.

“I believe that our targets are achievable because of the solid partnerships we have built with you,” she said.

The First Lady spoke when she virtually addressed a partnerships meeting on accelerating the progress towards achieving validation for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis by 2021.

Available records show that Kenya has made progress on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and curbing maternal mortality with new HIV infections reducing by 47 percent from 12,826 in 2013 to 6,806 in 2020. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta in 2017 during a Beyond Zero Summit launched the Kenya Framework for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis 2016-2021 that contributed to the achievement.

The First Lady commended the innovative implementation of the Kenya eMTCT Framework adopted by counties through the county business plan model.

“So far, we have successfully launched 11 county business plans.  It is my hope that we, as partners, will commit to resourcing and supporting the remaining county governments on their respective journeys,” the First Lady said.

The county business plans provide for the sustainable and timely implementation of activities for counties to meet their unique eMTCT circumstances.

As the national patron and champion of eMTCT, the First Lady said her overall mission is to end preventable deaths of women and children as well as to eliminate new cases of HIV infections from mothers to their children.

She applauded the existing partnership between her Beyond Zero initiative and other health stakeholders including the national and county governments for working together in promotion of maternal and child health.

“Since I began my own journey in 2013 with the Beyond Zero initiative, we have depended on partnerships with the national and county governments and other health stakeholders.

“As partners, we remain inspired to do what we can to realize a world free of HIV and syphilis transmission to newborns. A world with zero maternal deaths,” First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said.

She observed that it was through the support of partners that the Beyond Zero initiative was able to deliver 52 mobile clinics across the country, adding that the initiative extended its resolve to increase access to healthcare through the Beyond Zero medical safaris.

“Our work is driven by our understanding that access to decent and affordable healthcare plays a huge role in saving lives.

“So far, we have conducted successful medical safaris in Nyanza, North and South Rift, Central and Nairobi regions,” she said.

Noting that there are still significant healthcare gaps affecting Kenyans – particularly underprivileged women and children – which require urgent attention especially during the COVID-19 pandemic times, the First Lady said a lot of work needs to be done to curb the spread of HIV infections in the country.

“This is why the Government of Kenya has committed, through universal health coverage, to scale up its efforts to improve access to HIV treatment to improve the health and well-being of women and children living with HIV,” she said.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, in a statement read on his behalf by CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi, commended First Lady Margaret Kenyatta for using her Beyond Zero initiative to rally the entire country behind the noble agenda of stopping new HIV infections among children and preventing mothers from dying while giving birth.

Other speakers at the hybrid meeting that drew both physical and virtual participants from the public and private sectors as well as development partners included Chief of Staff in the Office of the First Lady Ms Constance Gakonyo, National Aids Control Council CEO Dr Ruth Masha and National AIDS and STI Control Program Head Dr Catherine Ngugi among others

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