Kenyan Legislators Pledge to Reinvigorate Maternal and Child Health Agenda

Written by Naftali Mwaura(africasciencenews)

Kenyan parliamentarians Tuesday joined their counterparts in Africa to renew their commitment to women and children’s health.The MPs pledged to harness their political clout to lobby the government to initiate policies that promote maternal and infant health.Likewise, the MPs promised to take a leading role in advocating for greater budgetary allocation towards safe motherhood and child survival programmes.

The new commitments were made during a Parliamentary retreat on Maternal, newborn and Child Health hosted by Kenyan Parliament and the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Nairobi.Farah Maalim, Deputy Speaker of Kenya’s National Assembly in his opening remarks decried the slow progress in maternal and child health in Kenya.Maalim said “we are running out of time towards the MDG deadline. There is need to reactivate the agenda on women and children’s health at the national level.”
He continued “the new constitution of Kenya declares health as a basic right for all Kenyans. Parliament has a pivotal role to play in ensuring the realization of this right.”

The Deputy Speaker remarked that Parliamentarians have critical responsibility in carrying out legislative, budgetary and oversight decisions required for essential health services for all citizens.
“Unless parliament plays these critical functions, progress in securing the health of our women and children will not be made,” stressed Maalim.He reiterated that partnerships with governments and non state actors are crucial to advancement of women and children’s health.

Maalim added “broad policy interventions in the health sector demand involvement of legislators and the central government. I urge parliamentarians to listen to voices of women and children”
Joyce Laboso, the Sotik MP and a member, Parliamentary Caucus on Poverty and MDGs remarked that “parliaments have a critical role to play in championing the rights of women and children.”

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Laboso hailed efforts by the current parliament to elevate maternal and infant health in the wider legislative agenda.
The Kenyan government has prioritized maternal and infant health in line with vision 2030 and MDG targets.
Francis Kimani, the Director of Medical services, said that the government is committed to reduce under five mortality from 120 to 33 per 1000 live births.

Kimani clarified that maternal mortality ratio in Kenya is worrying; it stands at 488/100,000.
The leading causes of maternal deaths in Kenya are bleeding during child birth, HIV/Aids, Malaria and unsafe abortions.
Childhood deaths in Kenya are associated with neonatal causes, diarrhoea, HIV/Aids, malaria, pneumonia and measles.
Kimani challenged parliamentarians to partner with the health sector to scale up interventions that reduce maternal and infant fatalities.
“Parliament has a role in lobbying the government to prioritize maternal and infant health at the national agenda,” said Kimani.
He reiterated that smart interventions that include promotion of insecticide treated nets, sanitation and hygiene and immunizations will reduce toll on mothers and childrens`deaths.
Kimani pointed at opportunities provided by devolved funds and use of modern ICT gadgets to promote womn and children’s health.