Statement by Cabinet Secretary Mr. James Macharia at the 68th World Health Assembly
It gives me great pleasure to join you in this session of the World Health Assembly. Mr. President, let me begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of this Assembly. I assure you of my delegation’s support.
The unprecedented Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in some countries in West Africa is the worst ever since its discovery, claiming more lives than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined and spreading beyond one continent. However, we are happy to note that, we are making progress in containing the outbreak in West Africa.
Following confirmation of the Ebola outbreak by WHO, Kenya developed a comprehensive National Ebola Contingency Plan that guides our preparedness to detect and contain any case of Ebola and other haemorragic fevers in a timely manner. In addition, in the spirit of global solidarity and shared responsibility, Kenya contributed 1 Million US dollars towards the Ebola response as well as deployed170 specialized health workers as part of the International Response through the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa. I wish to take this opportunity to commend the leadership of the affected countries for their commitment and the International community for their technical and financial support in efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak.
Moving forward, we need to learn from the Ebola outbreak and in particular the need to strengthen our health systems to be able to respond to future disease outbreaks as well as strengthen WHO to enable the organization respond effectively to future disease outbreaks of international health concern.
I wish to now highlight some of the recent achievements in the health sector in Kenya.
Kenya is implementing its National Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan (2014-2018) whose theme is “accelerating attainment of Universal Health Coverage”. In this regard, the Government committed to invest 420 Million USD towards the equipping of public health facilities with modern state of the art equipment, under a public private partnership model. The aim of the project is to increase access to specialized health services thereby improving quality of health services through out the country and decongesting the main referral hospitals. The country is also at the early stages of developing a blue print to expand cancer management to respond to the growing burden of cancers in the country.
The Government of Kenya has also initiated a number of measures as part of its efforts to improve Maternal Newborn and Child Health which include provision of free maternity health care services; increasing access of health services in hard to reach areas through use of mobile clinics as well as sustaining the demand for health services through the implementation of community strategy amongst others. As a result we are witnessing major improvements on the health indicators. For example, the number of deliveries in health facilities has increased from 44% to 62% over the last 2 years while the under 5 mortality rate has declined from 90 to 52 deaths per 1000 live births between 2004 to 2014.
Kenya appreciates that a lot still needs to be done to improve the health of its people. At this moment when the global community takes stock on the progress towards attainment of the MDG targets and looks forward to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, I urge all governments represented here to advocate for health to remain at the fore of the future development agenda. The gains achieved thus far, can only be sustained by the adoption of context-specific Universal Health Coverage policies, which build on the progress made in promoting maternal child health and control of HIV, Malaria and TB over the past decade.
In conclusion, Mr. President, allow me to extend an invitation to everyone gathered here today on behalf of Her Excellency, Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya. From July 19th to 21st this year, the Republic of Kenya will be honoured to host the 9th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Thise meeting will discuss the growing challenge posed by Cancer within our region, and chart the way forward in this global fight. We look forward to welcoming you to Nairobi this coming July.