First lady Margaret Kenyatta lobbies for good health at Harvard forum

The First Lady addressesing the Harvard University Annual Leadership Forum for Education and Health Ministers in the US where she shared her experience with the Beyond Zero campaign under the theme “Catalyzing the Demographic Dividend: Enabling Women and youth [Photo: Courtesy]
First lady Margaret Kenyatta has intimated that Kenya needs to improve its health care to maximise on her human capital investment.

Speaking in the Annual Harvard University Leadership Forum on Education and Health Ministries in the US, she said good health is very critical in improving productivity of the workforce, especially in women and youth.

“As such, it is critical to make strategic investments that would improve health outcomes especially in reversing trends in HIV infections amongst young people, negative consequences of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages,” she said.

Mrs Kenyatta also shared her experience in the Beyond Zero Campaign in Kenya under the theme ‘Catalyzing the Demographic Dividend: Enabling Women and youth’.

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She emphasized on the necessity of improving child survival by focusing on prevention of infectious diseases, boosting immunization, improving nutrition and strengthening interventions for the first 1000 days.

The First Lady talked about her efforts to help reduce maternal and neo-natal mortality and reduction of HIV infections among women and newborns through the Beyond Zero Campaign.

She says she launched Beyond Zero Campaign so as to spur a ‘movement’ across the country about access to quality healthcare to all Kenyans.

“The idea needed an anchor – the mobile clinics, a platform and innovative fundraising methods to raise capital for implementation of the initiative across the country,” she said.

In the campaign, mobile clinics have been distributed to all 47 counties in the country in the last five years.

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In this way, even the remotest communities can get access to good and quality healthcare.

She says the decision to start proving healthcare services across the whole country was not an easy one.

“It required boldness, innovativeness, a spirit of humility and capacity to critically question the status quo to move beyond ‘business as usual’ and dare to do things differently,” she said


She mentioned Beyond Zero Campaign succeeded because of working closely with the National Government in complimenting efforts geared towards provision of healthcare for all.

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“We must also invest in health systems, including human resources and infrastructure with the goal of enhancing access to quality health services and guaranteeing adequate financing for the health sector,” the First Lady said.

The CEO of the Harvard University Ministerial Leadership Forum, Mr Michael Sinclair, said the First Lady’s address will significantly influence the participants’ momentum to make positive change in their countries.

Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and other Health and Education Ministers from 15 African countries attended the Harvard forum.

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