A plus for women accessing antenatal care in West Pokot County
The number of women in West Pokot County who are accessing antenatal care in the last trimester has more than doubled between the year 2012 and 2020; from about 17 to 27 percent.
Besides the percentage of women delivering in hospitals through the support of the government, UNICEF and other health development partners has increased to 60 percent from 22 percent years back.
UNICEF representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman attributes this to the government’s continued investment in infrastructure which has seen the number of functional government facilities increase by 71 to 79 percent in 2013 to the current 135 percent according to UNICEF data.
‘‘We have also seen that you have continued to address the deficit of human resource by recruiting additional doctors including specialist consultants and additional nurses,” the Unicef representative went on.
Zaman attributed the remarkable success to the good leadership of the county government, national government, UNICEF, and other development partners.
‘‘We need to continue on this journey more so that we reach the recommended WHO levels of having 22 doctors and 228 nurses per every 100,000 people’’ Zaman told the West Pokot leaders.
She congratulated the Members of County Assembly (MCAs) for being among the first counties to implement the Community Health Act of 2020 which aims at providing sustainable change in health-seeking behaviour amongst communities.
She pointed out that UNICEF will support the implementation of the Community Health Act adding so far they have succeeded in establishing health community units in Pokot North Sub-Counties which now stood at 75 percent coverage.
“Children’s nutritional situation in the county has gradually improved and the latest surveys of 2021 indicate that 65 percent of children who are under five years are growing well as compared to 55 percent in 2004 which is a 10 percent improvement,’’ she noted.
‘‘Some 35 percent of the children in this county who are under five years of age are however not growing well and we have to focus our attention on them so that all the children in West Pokot have access to good nutritious food and care so that they can grow not only to their full physical potential but have the optimal cognitive and mental development and brain development which is very important for the rest of their lives,’’ she told the MCAs.
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‘‘I think we all know the data of female genital mutilation in West Pokot is a very worrying and troubling situation as it stands at 70 percent comparing to the national average of around 21 percent. Am aware that efforts are being made definitely to abandon this harmful practice and I urge you, honorable members, to lend all your support so that more is done with urgency,’’ she said reminding the MCAs that legislative instruments are key contributors to protecting children in the county.
On education, she said the county has progressed well but due to Covid – 19 pandemic, it has been disrupted and not only in West Pokot or Kenya but globally. ‘‘UNICEF has been supporting children to get back to school and we are together making efforts to ensure children get back into learning. And here too I urge the county government to do their best to ensure children resume learning as soon as possible,’’ she urged.
‘‘Let us first of all start with recognizing that investing in children means investing in human capital development which means investing in your county, the growth and prosperity of your county. It all begins with children. If we are able to support, nurture, and educate children in the way that they really deserve then this county can be even more vibrant and more prosperous,’’ she added.
West Pokot acting speaker Francis Krop thanked UNICEF for choosing to support West Pokot County with infrastructure for the sustainable development goals that he noted had transformed the livelihoods of many residents.
‘‘I’m sure we wouldn’t be where we are today as a county and we are grateful for your support and hope to continue this level of partnership,’’ Krop said.
Krop said as leaders they will continue to come up with legislations that will bring about transformative changes in residents’ livelihoods.