By PSCU

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has rallied health sector stakeholders to invest more in interventions aimed at strengthening Kenya’s disease resilience through collaborative efforts.

The First Lady said inadequate resilience to disease outbreaks among Kenyan communities, especially among vulnerable groups, has the potential to disrupt the country’s march towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“Today we see encouraging signs of declining cases of Covid-19 globally, but, we cannot forget the fragilities of our health system, and the need to increase our resilience so that we can protect ourselves from potential disruptions that are still a reality.

“Pandemics such as Covid-19 can impede our efforts towards building a secure health system that brings our country closer to achieving universal health coverage,” the First Lady said.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta spoke on Tuesday when she officially opened the International Conference on Health Promotion at Kenyatta University held under the theme, “Promoting Health during and Beyond Covid-19″.

While reflecting on the negative impacts of Covid-19, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hailed the conference for bringing together stakeholders to develop synergies, create partnerships and find solutions to Kenya’s health challenges.

“It will also contribute to identifying sustainable practices that will build on our collective efforts of improving the wellbeing of our communities, especially vulnerable populations who have been impacted the most,” the First Lady said.

She said it was critical to ensure that vulnerable communities especially women and children need special attention owing to inequalities healthcare access.

“These inequalities have been a key concern that have heightened Government’s investment towards increasing health access for its populations. This is why it is critical that we share our lessons and learnings from this pandemic and align our recovery measures with long term sustainable strategies,” the First Lady said.

Once again, the First Lady acknowledged the the contribution of health promotion in defeating Covid-19 noting that, public health measures such as hand washing, wearing face masks and social distancing helped contain the disease.

“Many of the containment measures that we adopted and relied upon to prevent the public and healthcare workers from getting infected, and our health systems from being overwhelmed, imply a change in behaviour.

“Hand washing, wearing face masks and social distancing, are all forms of human behaviour. In addition, health authorities have tried to enhance protective behaviour amongst the public, by issuing warnings and recommendations about this new virus,” the First Lady noted.

Going forward, the First Lady proposed the creation of a health promotion mechanism that will take all stakeholders on board so as to ensure that Kenyans have access to adequate health information.

“Health literacy efforts and multi-sectorial action that contribute to increased healthy behaviours are key lessons that are essential in safeguarding the public’s health,” the First Lady said.

She emphasized the need for unity of action among health sector stakeholders saying their diversity of knowledge and experiences should be harnessed to develop meaningful solutions.

“Our collective diverse knowledge provides significant opportunities that we can leverage on to develop meaningful solutions to global health crises. Through clear communication based on health literacy, as well as through collaboration across countries, disciplines, health and education systems,” the First Lady said.

In her speech, Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi applauded the First Lady for her leading role in health promotion and service provision especially groups through her Beyond Zero initiative.

On his part, Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina called for new health approaches that suit local situations and needs by building community capacity, and assured of the university’s commitment to continue supporting the strengthening of Kenya’s health systems through training and research.

The opening ceremony was also addressed by Kenyatta University Council Chairman Prof Shem Migot-Adholla, Red Cross Secretary General Asha Mohammed and UNICEF Kenya Country Representative Maniza Zaman among others.