• Both initiatives have been effective in improving maternal and neonatal health.
• This will ensure more funds are allocated to the two initiatives, more personnel are given skills and that there are adequate resources for commodities.
The Linda mama initiative and the Beyond zero campaigns have been effective in improving maternal and neonatal health. Since 2013, Stunting reduced from 35 per cent to 26 per cent, while exclusive breastfeeding improved from 32 per cent to 61 per cent.
The under-five mortality rate has declined from 115 to 52 translating to 30,000 children’s lives saved. Neonatal mortality has also declined from 33 to 22 per 1,000 live births over the same period.
One unforeseen circumstance, however, is that these two initiatives are not pegged within the law and, therefore, any sitting president can decide to either retain or remove the initiatives. The question, therefore, is what does the future holds for mothers in the event that the next governments do not recognise these initiatives.
The Jubilee government under President Uhuru Kenyatta will have left a legacy of improving maternal health in Kenya. However, it is necessary that these two initiatives be provided for within the confines of the Constitution. As we continue celebrating the milestones in the improvement of maternal healthcare, the Senate and the National Assembly should pass laws that will make the First Lady's Beyond Zero campaign and the Linda Mama initiatives acts of Parliament.
This will ensure more funds are allocated to the two initiatives, more personnel are given skills and that there are adequate resources for commodities. It will also ensure these two initiatives remain in place. The Constitution of Kenya entitles everyone to the highest attainable standards of health including reproductive health.
Establishing Linda Mama Initiative and Beyond Zero Campaign as acts of Parliament will further improve the right to reproductive healthcare. The result will be a further reduction in maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. As we celebrate improvement in maternal and neonatal health, let us also advocate for president prerogatives to be bound by the law.
Naya Kenya, Nairobi