Beyond Zero race launched
Lynette Matheka and Rodgers Ndegwa
First Lady Magaret Kenyatta, alongside World Marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, yesterday launched the fifth edition of the ‘Beyond Zero’ half marathon set to be held on March 8, 2020 in Nairobi.
The marathon date coincides with the International Women’s Day.
Previously known as the First Lady Half Marathon, ‘Beyond Zero’ half marathon is aimed at creating awareness and drawing the attention of stakeholders to the challenges of maternal and infant health in Kenya besides raising resources to increase access to healthcare for mothers and their babies.
The marathon is one of the key resource mobilisation events for Beyond Zero, a flagship programme aimed at saving the lives of mothers and children by preventing maternal and infant deaths.
The First Lady announced plans to establish a ‘Beyond Zero’ referral centre to provide specialised care for mothers and children.
“I thank you all for your support and for being Beyond Zero champions. This is what has kept me going. The impact of mobile clinic and medical clinics launched last year has touched many lives.
Your encouragement, your inspiration, your dedication has contributed to the gains we have made in saving lives of mothers and children and reversing the mother to child transmission of HIV,” said the First Lady.
Support from athletes
The launch coincided with the International Day of Persons Living with Disabilities. The day has been celebrated for the last 27 years to celebrate abilities, promote rights and increase understanding of issues on disability.
“People living with disabilities must be protected and given the dignity to live meaningful and productive lives as part of our communities.
This year’s theme urges us to break the barriers that persist in access to services in health, education and employment of persons with disabilities. It also calls on us to reflect what we have achieved in integrating all persons without discrimination.
“This resonates with my ‘Beyond Zero’ work since 2014 when Kenya was considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for pregnant women to survive.
The prevalence and transmission of HIV among infants was an urgent issue. Together we have worked hard to turn around the distressing data on preventable deaths,” said the First Lady.
People with disability
Previous editions have enabled the First Lady to issue mobile clinics to all 47 counties in the country. The initiative also aims at accelerating the implementation of the national plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children.
Over 10,000 people from two counties have received services to help eliminate ‘mother-to-child infections’ and more counties are expected to benefit from the initiative.
Last year’s edition saw the organisers introduce, for the first time, T11, T12 and T13 categories of the visually impaired participating in the 21km race.