via The Star, Kenya
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta wants the next African Conference on Sexual Health Rights (ACSHR) held in Kenya in 2020.
The conference is held every four years and Kenya last hosted the continental meeting in 2006. The request to hold the 8th ACSHR was made early this year when the First Lady officially closed the 7th meeting in Accra, Ghana. The First Lady believes the conference is important in highlighting the plight of adolescent girls, the increase in teenage pregnancies and vulnerability of adolescents to HIV/AIDS.
The forthcoming 8th ACSHR conference will look at prioritizing adolescents (15-24 years) in the development agenda as well as rally support at a continental level. These issues were raised at a meeting on June 17, 2016 when the First Lady hosted officials from the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and Action Health Incorporated (AHI).
Dr. Chimaraoke Izugbara informed the First Lady of APHRC’s partnership with the government in various projects: the 2015 National Steps Survey for Non-Communicable Diseases, the Global Nutrition Report, the Adolescent Health Symposium, among others. APHRC also supported the Busia County government during the handover of the 42nd Beyond Zero mobile clinic.
The First Lady’s office requested APHRC to evaluate the Beyond Zero campaign, specifically looking at the impact on access to healthcare for mothers in Kenya.
Dr Esiet Uwemedimo from AHI commended the First Lady for her demonstrated interest, enthusiasm and energy to address the plight of women and girls through the Beyond Zero initiative. He recommended that the First Lady officially becomes the African voice in articulating and championing the issues of adolescent girls across the continent, to which she quickly responded “Count me in!”
Dr. Esiet said the First Lady was best placed to articulate and provide leadership on the issues at all levels.
Principal Secretary for Health Dr. Nicholas Muraguri, underpinned the importance of the ACSHR conference in the current work that the Ministry is undertaking in slums across the country, which he said are the most neglected, hard to reach, and hard hit by new HIV infections.
The PS said the Ministry’s work in the slums has been informed by evidence-based research provided by APHRC which has ensured better catchment and timely provision of services to the residents of the slums.
National Aids Control Council Director Dr. Nduku Kilonzo highlighted the worrying indicators of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and singled out Wajir, Mandera and Busia as some of the hardest hit counties.
She recommended a thorough review of the curriculum to incorporate a comprehensive health approach as a long term intervention. Dr. Kilonzo also singled out Uganda as one of the countries that have successfully mainstreamed and helped fast-track the process of ensuring that girls stay and complete formal school programs. She recommended that the 2020 ACSHR conference should align itself to common outcomes which would strengthen the agenda of policy, advocacy and awareness.