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Kakamega civil society leaders launch new alliance to improve health for women, newborns, and children

May 26, 2016 by PATH

Milcah Akala makala@path.org

Kakamega, Kenya, May 27, 2016 — Today, twenty local civil society organizations dedicated to improving health and well-being in Kakamega County launched a new alliance to advocate for strengthened county policies and increased investment in maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH).

Even with progress, Kakamega County has among the highest rates of maternal and child deaths in Kenya.

The launch ceremony, held at the Golf Hotel, drew high-level officials from Kakamega County, and a diverse group of about 150 health specialists, community leaders, and academics to spotlight the needs of women and children in the county and how an alliance can improve health and save lives.

Speaking during the event, the First Lady of Kakamega County Mrs. Priscilla A. Oparanya said, "The new alliance, working in partnership with our county government, has the power to make a difference in the lives of our mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and sons. We must come together to improve the health and well-being of our citizens–our future depends on it."

Almost every day a mother dies in Kakamega County due to pregnancy-related complications and delivery. Newborns face a high risk of being born prematurely, difficulty breathing during birth, and post-birth infections. Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and pneumonia are among the main causes of death among women and children.

PATH, an international nonprofit organization that has worked in partnership with local organizations and county governments in Kenya for more than a decade, helped to bring together the alliance. Comprised of community-based organizations with a strong presence in Kakamega County, the alliance will advocate for stronger MNCH policies at the county level.

"Civil society leaders with deep roots in Kakamega County are coming together to transform the lives of the people in their communities and neighborhoods," said Rikka Trangsrud, Country Director of PATH in Kenya. "PATH is proud to partner with these local organizations to advocate for quality health care. Improving health in Kenya must start with county leadership and community engagement."

The County Minister of Health Services for Kakamega County Mrs. Peninah Mukabane praised the alliance: "We will be working with the alliance to make sure our people and communities have a chance to thrive. All of us have a responsibility and an obligation to work together to improve the lives, health, and rights of our citizens."

Following the launch event, alliance members and several MNCH champions marched together from the Kakamega County Referral Hospital to the Golf Hotel to raise awareness and galvanize community members to support local government action to save the lives of women, newborns, and children.

The alliance, officially named the Kakamega County MNCH CSOs Alliance, includes 20 organizations:

  • Kakamega County Stakeholders Association - KACOSTA
  • Kakamega County CSO Network
  • Good Health Community Programmes
  • Urafiki Initiative Development Organization - UCIDEC
  • Western Kenya Health and Environmental Organisation
  • Kabras Juakali Community Based Organization
  • Bukha Community Based Organization
  • Alpha Support Development Programme
  • Community Capacity Building Initiative - CCBI
  • Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Persons - FOVUP
  • Lugari OVC and PLWHA Support Group - LOPSUG
  • Matunda Jua Kazi Organization
  • Mukhonje SA HIV/AIDS Development Group
  • Organization for Health Education Research Services - OHERS
  • Support Activities in Poverty Eradication and Health
  • Family Health Options Kenya - FHOK
  • Mana Community Based Organization
  • Matungu Rural Poverty Alleviation - MARPA
  • Kallwao Community Based Organization
  • Jipangeni Disabled Self Help Group