What We Are Doing

Kenyan children run for survival 1 Jul 2015

Written by Wangari Karuoya, Campaign Officer, Save the Children in Kenya

“The mortality rates of children under five has been reduced by 36 percent between 2009 and 2014." This was noted by Dr. Nicholas Muraguri, Director of Medical Services during the Race for Survival event held at Lavington Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya on 1 July. Children drawn from 5 primary schools in the county participated in the race, this accorded them an opportunity to celebrate the country’s remarkable progress on reducing preventable child deaths and also to call on leaders to put in strong, accountable commitments to end preventable child deaths in Kenya by 2030. Other people present at the event were the first lady of Nairobi County, Dr. Susan Kidero, Save the Children Nutrition Ambassador Anne Kiguta, Celebrity musician Wahu Kagwi as well as partner organizations such as World Vision and GlaxoSmithKline.

In particular, the children called on the government to report on progress on the commitments made in Rio (Brazil) during the global forum on Human Resources for Health in 2013, where the Kenyan government committed to recruit at least 12,000 health workers per year by 2017 for health care delivery at facility level to support facility and community level health services, recruit at least 40,000 community health extension workers by 2017 to support community level health services and increase spending in the health sector on Health Resources for Health (HRH) beyond staff salary and allowances by 2017.

Speaking at the event, Duncan Harvey, Save the Children Country Director remarked, “With less than 200 days left to the end of the MDGs, there’s need to translate these commitments into tangible benefits to the most vulnerable, particularly the urban and rural poor who lack access to functional and affordable basic healthcare services. Kenya needs to significantly accelerate its efforts during the less than 200 days remaining for the country to reduce child deaths to the MDG target of 33 deaths per 1,000 live births by end of 2015.”

According to Hope Nyokabi, the Secretary to the Cabinet in the Kenya Children’s Assembly ending children’s deaths is everybody’s responsibility. “We as children have come here today to represent others just like us and we want to have a voice in matters that affect us. We want our rights to be taken into account and we would like the government to ensure that there is nutritious food available for every child in Kenya.”This was echoed by another child delegate in the Children’s Assembly, Brian Mungai saying, “Our nutrition is vital for our education. We need a healthy and nutritious diet to enable us gain enough energy and strength to concentrate on our studies.”

The mortality rates of children under five has been reduced by 36% between the 2008/2009 and 2013/2014 Kenya Demographic Health Surveys (KDHS), from 74 to 52 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Mrs. Kidero applauded the efforts of both the county and national governments in the progress that has been made in matters to do with maternal and child mortality in the past year. “Systems have been put in place to reduce maternal deaths with the ‘Beyond Zero’ campaign being one of the major ones. Major maternity hospitals in the County have already been renovated and equipped as part of these strides and the results are already evident. Plans are underway to ensure that these public hospitals continue being improved for the sake of the mothers in the country.” She said.

The Director of Medical Services in the Ministry of Health Dr. Nicholas Muraguri conceded that there is more that the government needs to do to ensure that children’s deaths are prevented.” We are committed to ensuring that there is enhancement of the quality of healthcare services for every mother, newborn and child under five by ensuring that there is a skilled worker within reach and that the health facilities are adequately equipped with medical supplies.” He said.

Save the Children’s ‘Race for Survival’ is a global initiative of action for child survival aimed at raising awareness on the hidden crisis of millions of under-five children dying from preventable causes every year. The event taking place around the world this year will also build a powerful momentum leading up to the UN General Assembly in New York in, September which will be the final stage of the race. Youth from eight regions of the world will gather in New York with letters, pictures and videos from the children in their countries, including from Kenya.