More needs to be done to improve lives of Kenyans

The KDHS 2022 report is a mixed bag of deserved progress and avoidable failures in the quality of life.

Starting with the brighter side of the spectrum, though slight, the decline in the fertility rate, home deliveries and the under-five mortality rate is proof of improved sexual and reproductive health. So are men’s involvement in maternal healthcare and the adoption of male circumcision.

But increased obesity rates show we are losing the fight to non-communicable diseases, just as inaccessibility of treated mosquito nets hampers the fight against the killer malaria. With obesity linked to carefreeness, there is a need to enhance sensitisation on the link between lifestyle choices and health.

That only three in 10 households can afford food is among the worst news. But more saddening is that uptake of health insurance is by a measly quarter of the population. The universal health coverage plan could cure that; a hungry sick nation is obviously not what our independence heroes fought for.

The worst of it is that the nation’s future is, literally, bleak. One in five children have not received any form of immunisation amid a plethora of diseases that maim and kill, which gnaws on the progress against child mortality. And a meagre 14 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, of reproductive-age women have been screened for the killer breast and cervical cancers.

There are good fruits of stakeholders’ efforts but a lot more needs to be done to improve the lives of Kenyans. Viewed through the prism of a depressed economy, increasingly high cost of living, worsening climate change effects on agriculture and the environment and wanton profligacy of the custodians of taxpayer funds, there is an urgent need for reform.

For better indicators in the next report, the public institutions of governance must, henceforth, embrace discipline, frugality and fairness, as well as prudent prioritisation, planning and implementation of socioeconomic projects.

The fulcrum of all this, however, is that the government must show commitment in the war on corruption. For its oft-reiterated pledge of zero tolerance for graft and other forms of impunity has become, in the Supreme Court judges’ words, hot air.