At a breakfast event hosted by the First Lady at State House, the 3rd Edition of the First Lady’s Half Marathon was unveiled paving way for the marathon on March 6.
The Marathon raises funds towards Beyond Zero campaign whose goal is to improve healthcare access across the country, especially the underserved regions.
The event which was launched on Tuesday January 26, 2016 attracted Diplomats, Government Departments, the Corporates, the Media, UN agencies, members of women parliamentary Association and the civil society among others.
Speaking at the launch the First Lady assured Kenyans of her commitment to the Beyond Zero campaign and called for more support to further expand the initiative.
She said there is need to introduce smarter and sustainable models to address the deplorable high numbers of maternal and child deaths in the country even as the Beyond Zero campaign was hailed as a highly gratifying and transformative initiative.
“Our focus, must be to pull together innovative ideas and approaches; introduce smarter, scalable and sustainable models, to address the deplorable high numbers of maternal and child deaths in this country”, she said.
She noted that despite the milestones achieved in the last two years since the launch of the campaign, women and children are still in need of healthcare.
“Kenya continues to rank in the top-ten African countries, where maternal health and child mortality lags. Kenya, is perceived as one of the most dangerous countries for a woman to be pregnant, and give birth.”
She noted that statistics from the 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey indicated that one out of 26 Kenyan children die before reaching the age of one year while one out of 19 children die before celebrating their fifth birthday.
“The campaign (Beyond Zero) remains a high priority initiative today as it was two years ago”, she said
The First Lady said the country has an opportunity to leap-frog the efforts made over the past years in improving healthcare delivery in Kenya.
Mrs Kenyatta registered as the marathon’s first participant and urged more Kenyans to register for the event in large numbers- either for the 21 Km, 10Km or 5 km races. The marathon will be flagged off at Nyayo Stadium.
The Marathon is an initiative of the First Lady that takes place at the beginning of every March which coincides with this year’s International Women’s Day. This year the event is targeting a record audience of 70,000 men and women, up from 50,000 participants in the past year.
So far, 36 out of 47 counties have benefited from the fully kitted clinics with significant impact on maternal and child health at the grassroots, immunization programs and reduction of HIV/Aids infections. The First Lady said the Beyond Zero campaign has raised Sh 540 million besides receiving donations in kind of medical equipment and kits.
During the launch, the Co-operative Bank of Kenya, through its Chief Executive Officer Dr. Gedion Muriuki pledged a Sh 15 million donation towards the Beyond Zero Campaign.
In an effort to support government accelerate its attainment of all maternal and child health targets including HIV prevention, treatment and care goals, the First Lady initiated the Beyond Zero in January, 2014. The campaign was inspired by the realization and knowledge that maternal and children’s deaths are largely preventable.
First Lady surprised the world in 2014 when she participated and successfully completed the London Half Marathon.
Besides her rigorous training sessions in Nairobi and other parts of the country, she also took her training sessions to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Tokyo Japan, last year.
Photo Credit: PSCU