Governors’ wives pledge to make health a priority in their counties
Amref Health Africa in Kenya last night hosted the First Ladies of the County Governments of Kenya to a gala dinner in celebration of the organisation’s 60th anniversary at the Enashipai Resort in Naivasha, where the governors’ spouses have been meeting this week.
Dr Meshack Ndirangu, Country Director of Amref Health Africa in Kenya, challenged the First Ladies to use their positions to influence improvement of health care in their counties, in particular through promoting (NHIF), and establishing partnerships to improve access to basic and specialised health services.
He emphasised the importance of Community Health Workers in ensuring basic health services and information at household level. Unfortunately, he noted, CHWs were not paid despite the fact that they made a big difference in promoting health at the grassroots. Dr Ndirangu challenged the First Ladies to champion the work of the CHWs and lobby for them to be paid by the county governments. He praised the Siaya County Government for including CHWs in its payroll which, he said was bound to pay dividends as citizens got easy access to health services.
“Health is manufactured and home and repaired at the hospital,” he said, adding: “Health in the household cannot be achieved without CHWs. By investing in them, you deliver health and earn the gratitude and loyalty of your constituents,” he said.
Giving brief highlights of their counties and the health challenges there, many of the First Ladies were concerned about the high incidence of cancer and other non-communicable diseases in their counties.
Priscilla Murungi, First Lady of Meru, said there were very many cases of cancer in her county. “There are villages where in almost every household there is someone with cancer. We hope research can be done to inform us of the cause and what we can do about it.”
Dr Ndirangu told the First Ladies that Amref had made non-communicable diseases a priority.
“While we are still concerned with communicable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, we recognise that the high burden of conditions like cancer, hypertension and diabetes must also be addressed.” He described Amref’s Walkway model, in which a mobile testing clinic was set up on sidewalks in Kibera in the mornings and evenings targeting high traffic of residents for hypertension services. “Since 2015, we have tested over 100,000 people and made referrals for treatment. We would like to work with your counties to provide testing services so that these diseases are detected early and treated.”
Voices of First Ladies:
I want to see female genital mutilation eliminated.
Lilly Lenolkulal, Samburu
I will encourage youth to use technology to create employment for themselves and promote the use of maternity packs.
Maria Mbeneka, Laikipia
We have high levels of cancer in Meru. I hope research will be done to know the causes and what we can do about it.
Priscilla Murungi, Meru
Alcoholism is a serious disease. We need to get our young people to stop drinking alcohol so that they can be productive.
A healthy woman is a healthy and productive society. I want to empower women and youth.
Caroline Wangamati, Bungoma
We want to work with Amref to promote preventive care. We must also find ways of producing enough food for our people and reduce reliance on the government for food.
Alamitu Yattani, Marsabit
We are holding a cancer screening camp with Amref in Nakuru next week. I appreciate your support.
Elizabeth Kinyanjui, Nakuru
I would like to make health and water accessible to all our constituents.
Catherine Wahome, Nyeri
We have been paying Community Health Workers because they make a very big difference in the health of our people.
Rosella Rasanga, Siaya
The high number of teenage pregnancies has led to many cases of fistula. Amref has repaired many of these cases, but we need to address this issue of early pregnancy.
Rosella Awiti, Homabay