Beyond Zero’s quest is to leave no one behind
Good health is, and has always been, the cornerstone of any nation. Global efforts by individuals, organisations, institutions, governments and government agencies continue to be made to secure good health as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda of ‘leaving no one behind’.
The SDG 2030 Agenda resonates with Beyond Zero’s work started in 2014. At that time, survival rates for pregnant women in Kenya was low and the prevalence and transmission of HIV among infants was an urgent issue.
We outlined five key priority areas where Beyond Zero’s work would focus. Together, we have worked hard to find solutions by investing resources, and concentrating our energies to turn around the distressing data on preventable maternal and child deaths, mother to child transmission of HIV, new HIV infections among adolescents and the increased burden of non-communicable diseases.
At a personal level, I have committed to run marathons, a cause that has been immensely supported by Kenyans of goodwill.
It is through this collective dedication that we have seen the impact of Beyond Zero mobile clinics and more recently, the Beyond Zero medical safaris launched in 2018.
Together with the Ministry of Health, government agencies, donor agencies, NGOs, health stakeholders, and individuals, we have made progress.
Your encouragement, your inspiration and your dedication has contributed to the gains we have made as a country in saving lives of mothers and children and reversing the mother to child transmission of HIV.
These achievements gave us the impetus to develop the 2nd Beyond Zero Strategic Framework (2018-2022).
This Framework revolves around critical intervention areas that cut across the entire life cycle namely, pregnant women, infants, the young, adolescents, men, people living with disabilities and older persons.
We support the governments’ advancement towards Universal Health Coverage.
On December 3, 2019, we launched the Beyond Zero Half Marathon 2020 whilst observing the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
This year’s theme focused on empowerment of persons living with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which pledges to ‘leave no one behind.’
Going forward, I am especially hopeful of our country’s commitment towards the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation by 2022.
Through the concerted efforts of various players in the health sector, we have seen increased awareness on reproductive health risks caused by obstetric fistula.
Let us work together to end harmful cultural practices that put lives of millions of women and girls at risk.
Our work is not finished. The worrying trend of increased cancer hurts our families, our communities and our nation.
In addition, the increase in new adolescent HIV infections threatens to disrupt Kenya’s opportunity to reap our demographic dividend from a youthful generation.
I will continue to invest in training and skills-building for community nurses and health workers by expanding the number of Beyond Zero scholarships offered from 100 to 200 in the next year.
Through the Beyond Zero Marathon 2020 that will take place on March 8, I will be counting on your support to rebuild or refurbish and equip specialised health units to better serve communities in marginalised areas.
In the long run, I will work towards fulfilling my dream of establishing a Beyond Zero referral centre for mothers and children.
I invite you to run with me on March 8. I look forward to seeing you at the start of the race.— The writer is the First Lady of Kenya.