Kenya pledges Sh244b to global kitty on Covid-19 fight
By Roselyne Obala
| October 28th 2021
Kenya is among countries that have contributed to the Sh3.56 trillion global kitty to mitigate the effects of Covid-19.
The global initiative is aimed at restoring 40 per cent loss of health services due to Covid-19 and targets to help women, newborns, children and adolescents.
This is done through an expanded campaign coordinated by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), pledges based on a global Call to Action to protect women, children, and adolescents in the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.
Kenya pledged $2.2 billion (Sh244 billion) during 2021-2022 for provision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to guarantee quality and affordable healthcare, with additional funding committed under the post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery Strategy for inequality, social cohesion and social protection.
“Three decades of massive improvement in health and social services for this group is severely threatened,” says Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Chair of PMNCH, a global alliance of 1,200 partner organisations, hosted at the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to WHO, women, newborns, children and adolescents have experienced disruptions of almost 40 per cent of key health services since the pandemic.
Of the Sh3.56 trillion pledge to date, nearly 60 per cent or Sh2 trillion in domestic funding, is committed by low and middle-income countries in response to PMNCH’s Call to Action. The countries include Burkina Faso, India, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.
The remaining $13.2 billion is from official development assistance committed as grants from high income countries and a private foundation.
These donor pledges were announced in December 2020.
“The majority of the pledges are domestic funding coming from middle and low-income countries themselves, with almost $17 billion (Sh1.8 trillion) from African nations,” says Clark.
“These nations are acting and not waiting for donations from others to help women, children and adolescents in their countries.”
Of the global amount, $15.2 billion (Sh1.6 trillion) (47 per cent) will address Covid-19.
The other half is directed to protecting existing sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health budgets, and protecting women, children and adolescents from violence.
“These funds will support women, children and adolescents in getting health services and priority social protections throughout the Covid-19 crisis and recovery periods,” says Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance and a leader in the PMNCH network.
The targeted areas are vaccination, still births, unwanted pregnancies, violence against women, orphans and caregivers as well as Covid-19 cases.
“The pandemic exposed critical weaknesses in our health systems. Battling the pandemic has shown us how much basic primary health care matters in saving lives and protecting rights of women and children,” says Dr Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO, Amref Health Africa and a leader in the PMNCH network.
“We need to achieve universal health coverage to ensure women, children and adolescents are protected at the primary level.”
In 2020, because of the secondary effects of the pandemic, the number of children that have not received a single vaccine shot against preventable diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (so-called “zero-dose” children), has gone up by 30 per cent in the least developed countries, leaving them vulnerable to some of the world’s deadliest diseases.
In January to March 2021, more than a year after the Covid-19 pandemic first prompted lockdowns, 44 per cent of 121 countries reported disruptions to family planning and contraception services.
During the same time period, 41 per cent of countries reported disruptions to services for management of moderate and severe malnutrition.
More than 14 million children and adolescents have contracted Covid-19 in 104 countries, translating to more than 14 per cent of the 102 million infections globally.
This even as the infection patterns have shifted towards younger age groups due to rising vaccine coverage among adults.
As of this month, only 1 in 27 people in low-income countries, or less than 4 per cent, has been vaccinated with at least one dose.
More than 6.2 billion doses have been administered globally, but only 3 per cent of those in Africa have been fully vaccinated.
PMNCH has issued a 7-point Call to Action in response to the devastating effects of Covid-19 on the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents.
It calls on leaders to protect and prioritise their rights and health during the Covid-19 response and recovery by strengthening political commitment, policies and financing for vital health services and social protections, particularly for the most vulnerable.
Country pledges are directed to maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health care and well-being, health systems strengthening, nutrition, food security and social protection programs and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
By the beginning of last December, the Call to Action had brought together commitments of $20.6 billion.
As of October, the pledges have increased by almost 56 per cent to Sh3.56 trillion.
“The health of women, children, and adolescents is now at great risk, with pre-existing inequities compounded by narrowing access to essential health services,” Clark says.
“Our concern is that resources directed to them, which were already insufficient, are being diverted away to respond to other challenges exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Basic primary health care matters immensely in saving lives and protecting rights.”
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