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Race to support maternal and children’s health

12 April 2016 HIV/AIDS & TB

Kenya MenEngage Alliance – KEMEA Programme officer Wycliffe Elias Muindi joined the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta in a marathon to create awareness of, and to raise funds for, maternal and children’s health. The marathon, with the theme “Run with the First Lady to save the lives of women and children”, was held on the 6th of March 2016 and it attracted over 2 000 participants, including several dignitaries such as Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, who ran alongside her Kenyan counterpart, Mrs Kenyatta.

The marathon was part of the “Beyond Zero Campaign” which the Kenyan First Lady launched in January in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The initiative aims to accelerate the implementation of the national plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children.

“I am deeply saddened by the fact that women and children in our country die from causes that can be avoided. It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Mrs Kenyatta. “This is why I am launching the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’, which will bring prenatal and postnatal medical treatment to women and children in our country.”

According to the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women and Children’s Health 2013 Update Report, in 2012 alone, more than 100 000 children died before their fifth birthday – largely due to preventable causes. In the same year, 13 000 new HIV infections occurred among children and 62% of children living with HIV did not access life-saving antiretroviral drugs.

“I wished that my mother had better access to maternal health care services that would have protected her from contracting HIV,” said Dorcas Kawira, a 21 year-old HIV-positive law student.

Kawira also shared the challenges she experienced in accessing and using HIV treatment during her childhood. She believes that investing in the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ will secure the necessary maternal and child health care to protect her and other young women living with HIV.

The campaign is part of the initiatives outlined in the Strategic Framework for the engagement of the First Lady in HIV control and promotion of maternal, newborn and child health in Kenya that was unveiled on World AIDS Day 2013. The framework aims to galvanise high-level leadership in ending new HIV infections among children and reducing HIV related deaths among women and children in Kenya.

The strategic framework focuses on five key areas:

  1. Accelerating HIV programmes;
  2. Influencing investment in high impact activities to promote maternal and child health and HIV control;
  3. Mobilising men as clients, partners and agents of change;
  4. Involving communities to address barriers to accessing HIV, maternal and child health services; and
  5. Providing leadership, accountability and recognition to accelerate the attainment of HIV, maternal and child health targets.

The marathon organised to support the campaign was also attended by leading corporate representatives, United Nations agencies personnel, national and county government leaders, members of the media, international marathon champions and celebrities.

More than 200 million Kenyan shillings were raised on the day. So far, through the campaign, 36 mobile clinics have been established across 36 out of 47 counties.

KEMEA programme officer Wycliffe Elias Muindi ran 10 km and was awarded a certificate and a medal for completing the race.

“The marathon was timely to me since I have been looking for a forum to articulate women and children issues at the national level and am happy that I was part of the effort”, Muindi said about his participation in the race.

See a gallery of photographs from the event here.

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