A nationwide campaign to reduce child mortality rate in Kenya has been launched. The initiative aims to create awareness and scale up efforts to enhance child survival. An estimated 74 children in every 1000 born in Kenya die before their fifth birthday, a trend that contributes to the loss of 189,000 lives annually.
Dubbed "5 and Alive", the campaign will roll out measures to curb 51 per cent deaths trough preventable diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and HIV/Aids.
Speaking yesterday in Nairobi while flagging off the campaign caravan, the Family Health department acting head in the Public Health ministry, Tatu Kamau, appealed for concerted efforts to fill the gaps that undermine the campaign to reduce infant mortality rate. "In order to reduce the child mortality, we all have a role to play. Our actions should be geared towards providing hope for all children," said Tatu.
She urged the public to support government efforts to lower the deaths of children to the Millennium Development Goals target of 33 per 1,000 live births. "There are simple proven and affordable measures such as vaccines, oral rehydration for diarrhea treatment, drugs to treat infections, exclusive breastfeeding and access to deliveries by skilled health workers," said Tatu.
According to the 2008/09 Kenya Democratic and Health Survey report, Nyanza province has the highest levels of under-five mortality rates at 149 deaths per 1,000 compared to Central's 51. Western province also tops the list on infant mortality at 95 deaths per 1,000, compared to Eastern, which has the lowest at 39.
Inadequate supply of Health personnel and services has been blamed for the high number of pregnant women opting for traditional birth attendants. Tatu called for the strengthening of health systems by recruiting and training more health and community workers to address the shortage.
Less than half of all births in Kenya are delivered in health facilities, with a 56 per cent of all deliveries taking place at home, a situation that could be attributed to the 60 per cent infant deaths that occur during the first month of life.
The healthcare that a mother receives during pregnancy, at the time of delivery and soon after giving birth is critical to the survival and well-being of both mother and child. "It is the responsibility of each and everyone to play their part to help stop needless deaths of children," said Tatu.
Kenya is yet to implement the Abuja Declaration that calls on states to allocate 15 per cent of its budget to health targets. According to the 2008/9 KDHS, maternal mortality shot from the initial 414 per 100,000 live births in 2003 to a high 488, with some regions reporting 1,000 deaths.