First Lady Margaret Kenyatta awards Phoebe Munya, wife of Meru Governor Peter Munya, during the Beyond Zero leadership summit at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. [Photo: Willis Awandu, Standard]
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Tuesday said it would cost an estimated Sh43.6 billion to implement the second phase of her Beyond Zero campaign. The second phase of the initiative will not only incorporate a road map to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission, but also deal with syphilis.
While taking stock of the milestones achieved through the campaign, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who was launching the second Framework for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission (eMTCT) of HIV and Syphilis (2016-2021), said she would remain dedicated to the initiative.
“It is a cause that I am committed to for the rest of my life”, the First Lady said.
During the celebrations at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, the First Lady noted the achievements made, saying that over 2,000 maternal deaths had been averted annually as new child infections dropped by half.
“It is encouraging to note that out of the 79,000 HIV-positive pregnant women in 2015, there were only 6,600 new child infections, a 50 per cent drop from 12,000 in 2013,” said the First Lady.
She added that it was through partnership with development partners and community workers as well as mobile clinics that the initiative reached all corners of the country. She, however, said the country had a long way to go in achieving zero deaths since 4,000 children died last year from HIV and AIDs-related causes.
Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said the ministry was targeting young adolescents, who contribute the highest to the new HIV infections annually.
“The ministry will focus efforts there because we have noted that these young teens are the most affected,” he said.
Dr Mailu said major strides had been made to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and that a global multi-partner effort had decreased the rate of transmission in children. The initiative is still seeking Sh8.4 billion to fill the gap after setting aside an estimated Sh 35.2 billion for implementation of the framework.
The framework will identify seven focus areas to catalyse achievement of the pre-elimination targets of mother to child of HIV and Syphilis. HIV transmission from mothers to their babies can happen during pregnancy at labour or through breast feeding. However, with access to treatment and proper care the risk of transmission can be reduced from 15 per cent to one per cent.