Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kenya awarded for innovative health services

The organisers say the award is named for the resolve shown by the country's leadership in finding “innovative” solutions despite limited resources. Photo/FILE

The organisers say the award is named for the resolve shown by the country's leadership in finding “innovative” solutions despite limited resources. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NJERI RUGENE nrugene@ke.nationmedia.com

Kenya is among four African countries that have received international recognition for her effort to expand access to family planning services to the people.

Gambia, Zambia and Sierra Leone have also been declared winners of an annual international award that recognises countries which have “surmounted various challenges to bring essential reproductive health services to their people.”

The 2013 Resolve Award will be presented to the country’s representative by the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health in Geneva, Switzerland next Wednesday during the World Health Assembly.

“The Resolve Award winners show us that even in most challenging environments, progress can be made,” said Ms Peggy Clark, Aspen Global Health and Development executive director and vice president of Policy Programs at the Aspen Institute.

“With ingenuity and commitment, these leaders are pushing the frontiers of reproductive health,” she added in a statement announcing the winners.

The organisers say the award is named for the resolve shown by the country's leadership in finding “innovative” solutions despite limited resources.

Kenya was recognised for developing a new policy, by the Kenya National Council for Population Development, a blue-print to curb the country’s rapid growing population.

The Population Policy for National Development approved by Parliament last year, proposes to ensure that women have an average of 2.6 children throughout their reproductive period as opposed to the current 4.6.

Although this figure is a slight drop from the 4.9 fertility rate of 2003, it was still high and they hope to reduce it to about 2.0.

The population council says the country records an annual population growth of nearly 1.7 per cent gross domestic product growth over the same period and argues it would have doubled to 64 million by 2030 when the government completes implementing its economic Blue Print, Vision 2030.

The council says it intends to initiate a more aggressive exercise that would boost family planning programs.

There has been the argument that funding for family planning programs has been low as resources were diverted to fighting the spread of HIV and Aids.

When launching the report, the then Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya, now the Kakamega county governor, said the policy aimed to manage population to ensure Kenyans enjoy quality life.

In selecting Kenya as among this year’s Resolve Award winners, the organisers argued that the countries previous policies on population and reproductive health failed to “muster broad political support.”

They say that the Kenya National Council for Population and Development then came up with a “solution” with the launch of the three year effort to engage the people and leaders in developing what they describe as a “visionary new policy created by and for the people.”

“Through a national leaders’ conference, Parliamentary forums, meetings with district leaders and public advocacy, the Council energised home-grown support for family planning and reproductive health.

“Their efforts produced a comprehensive Population Policy for National Development which places family planning at the centre of Kenya’s development agenda.”

Next week, global leaders on women rights campaigners assemble in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a one week conference dubbed Women Deliver 2013 to discuss issues affecting women and girls such as reproductive health, gender and empowerment.

The conference hopes to generate new political, financial and grassroots support for girls’ and women’s health and empowerment, while fostering the next generation of leaders for gender equality.

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