First Lady launches mobile clinic in Homa Bay

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on August 28, this year  launched a mobile clinic in Homa Bay County under her project, ‘Beyond Zero’. Below is the speech she delivered.


Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me from the onset to express my gratitude for joining you here today.  It is indeed a great privilege to be here this morning  although I must say that we needed to have been here much earlier.
It is a day I have been looking forward to for the simple reason that mothers  from Homa Bay County deserve to be healthy and their children born free of HIV .
The Beyond Zero Campaign is a philosophy.  It is about the opportunity for me to utilize my convening powers to catalyze action by people of all walks, levels and responsibilities in Kenya to ensure that  all mothers remain HIV free, and their children  delivered in a healthy environment.
I am informed that the community systems in Homa Bay County are in the process of being strengthened as a mitigation measure to ensure that the ordinary citizenry cope with the impact of HIV and AIDS.
Fish and fish products being sourced from this region earns the country foreign exchange from the exports. I urge the county government to continue providing the necessary infrastructure to ensure value addition for the fish products in order to attract better prices  in the wider markets.
I am also informed that one does not need to use fertilizer in the farms here in order to get good yields so long as there are adequate rains. That includes the pineapples from Homa Bay County which are known to be the sweetest in the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the HIV epidemic in Homa Bay County has been described as hyper endemic, that is, prevalence above 15%. Let us pause and reflect on what this situation means for the County.
First it reduces the chance that young women will remain free of HIV, which in turn means that the number of children born with HIV will remain on the increase. It also means that the number of women that suffer birth related complications will keep rising.
Reports that Homa Bay County alone recorded  12,279  (adults)  and 2,724 (children)  new HIV infections in 2013 should concern all of us as Kenyans. It also saddening  that approximately 3,395 adults and 1,234 children died of AIDS related ailments in the same year.  These are not just figures; they are women, men, girls and boys, some in their very productive and tender age brackets.
Women in particular face critical challenges.  Many young girls, who are themselves children have been left to become heads of households long before they can understand what this arduous  role means. School dropout rates are also unacceptably high in this County. 
In this attrition, more than two thirds of pregnant women are below 24 years of age.  Widows still get inherited, which increases HIV transmission.  Orphans and vulnerable children will continue to be a challenge for the development of this County unless we all act now.
I am aware the main economic stay of this beautiful county revolves around the lake. However, the life style of fishermen  and fishmongers has become a source of vulnerability to HIV and AIDS.
I believe that the solutions to these problems lie with us.  They lie with the political leadership.  They lie with the elders.  They lie with the business community.  They lie with us as individuals.
To deliver on my part in this responsibility, I chose to run a marathon, to bring attention to these challenges.  It is the fruits of this initiative that are funding this campaign.
Today we gather here to make our contribution to add impetus to the good work that is already going on in the county. Through this donation of a mobile clinic our mothers and their new born babies no longer have to die from preventable health conditions.
The fully equipped mobile clinic that we are donating  today is sponsored by Equity Bank and will be used to deliver essential health services across the county through a schedule already put in place by the County Government. Let us make use of this facility to ensure efficacy of service delivery.
I now wish to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Mr. Cyprian Awiti, the Governor, Homa Bay County and his leadership. I also want to thank the people of Homa Bay County for hosting us so warmly here today.
Finally, I also want to thank Equity Bank for their support and to assure the people of Homa Bay County that I remain committed to continue partnering with your leaders and yourselves to deliver a promise to stop new HIV infections among children and to keep our mothers alive. Together, we will get Beyond Zero.
It is now my pleasure to officially hand over the fully kitted mobile clinic to your Govenor Cyprian Awiti on behalf of the people of  Homa Bay County.
Thank you and God bless.