What you need to know:
- First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is calling for renewed commitment to the elimination of mother-to-child transmission (eMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis in the country.
- Ms Kenyatta commended the innovative implementation of the Kenya eMTCT Framework adopted by counties through the county business plan model.
- She applauded the existing partnership between the Beyond Zero initiative and other health stakeholders.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta is calling for renewed commitment to the elimination of mother-to-child transmission (eMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis in the country through concerted efforts to accelerate progress made towards achieving eMTCT by promotion of stronger partnerships.
“I am convinced our successes rely on harmonised efforts from both the public and private sectors. I believe our targets are achievable because of the solid partnerships we have built with you,” she said.
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,” she 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, Ms Kenyatta 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 the 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 new-borns. A world with zero maternal deaths,” she said.
The First Lady spoke during a virtual meeting on accelerating the progress towards achieving validation for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis by 2021.
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 added.
She noted that a lot of work needs to be done to curb the spread of HIV infections in the country as there are still significant healthcare gaps affecting Kenyans particularly underprivileged women and children, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
“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 Cabinet Secretary Mr Mutahi Kagwe, in a speech read on his behalf by Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr Mercy Mwangangi, commended the First Lady for using her Beyond Zero initiative to stop new HIV infections among children and preventing mothers from dying while giving birth.
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 per cent from 12,826 in 2013 to 6,806 in 2020.
The First Lady 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.
According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Kenya is among the 22 countries which collectively account for 90 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV.
Without proper care, about 40 per cent of all babies born to women with HIV will acquire the virus either during the mother’s pregnancy, childbirth or while breastfeeding.
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs in Kenya have, however, made significant inroads in reducing the proportion of infants who acquire HIV from their mothers.
Each year, it is estimated that 100,000 women with HIV give birth and nationally, about 11,000 (11 per cent) of their infants become HIV positive with some regions having achieved eMTCT.
This has been an improvement, but the goal is to reduce the number of babies acquiring HIV to less than five per cent of births to HIV-positive women.
It is estimated that HIV and Aids contributes to 20 per cent of maternal deaths in Kenya, which is already unacceptably high.