USD 6 million contribution by the Government of Denmark set to boost maternal health in six Counties in Kenya

USD 6 million contribution by the Government of Denmark set to boost maternal health in six Counties in Kenya

The Ambassador of Denmark to Kenya, H.E. Mette Knudsen and the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee signing the agreement.

Efforts to end maternal deaths in Kenya received a major boost yesterday when the Government of Denmark and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) signed a USD 6 million agreement for Danish support towards the UN Joint Programme on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH). The programme aims at reducing the heavy maternal and newborn mortality burden through increased utilization of integrated quality RMNCAH, HIV and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) services in ten counties. In the first phase activities will take place in six counties, namely Mandera, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo, Lamu and Migori. As the scope is scaled up four more counties will be included.
The Joint Programme is a partnership between six organizations working on women, children and adolescent health also known as the H6 Partners (UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, UN Women and UNAIDS). For the past two years the H6 partners, under UNFPA leadership, have been working to find ways to save lives at childbirth and meet related challenges of reproductive health in the six counties accounting for close to 50% of all maternal deaths in Kenya. 
The majority of the Counties benefitting from the support are part of the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC). The seven FCDC counties are: Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa, Tana River, Wajir, Isiolo and Lamu.
Today’s signing of the agreement was the highlight of a High Level meeting held at the UN Complex in Nairobi between the National Government, the FCDC, UN and development partners.
The signing was presided over by the Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary, Mwangi Kiunjuri in the presence the Council of Governors Chairman, Hon. Peter Munya, Governors of the seven FCDC counties and other senior members from the National Government, the UN and Development Partners.
Speaking before signing the agreement, H.E. Ambassador Knudsen stressed the linkage between maternal health and the nation’s economic prospects. “This partnership is not only driven by moral positions, but also by concrete evidence that reducing maternal and newborn deaths is the smartest investment for turning around the fortunes of poor economies,” she said.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee lauded the gesture by the Government Denmark, terming it “a vote of confidence in the intervention currently underway in the six counties.” Mr. Chatterjee also expressed hope that many more donors will decide to invest in the Kenya Frontier Counties.
The health of mother and baby in these historically disadvantaged counties has increasingly become a key priority of the National Government, County governments and development partners. Some of the initiatives that demonstrate the Government’s commitment to maternal health include the free maternal health policy and the First Lady’s Beyond Zero campaign.
The UN has consistently played the role of a convener and honest broker, always identifying opportunities for collaboration in this region and in the rest of the country.
According to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) Mid Term Report 2016, the Joint Program on RMNCAH has led to notable progress on coherence, service delivery, partnerships and strengthened accountability by county governments. The report also notes that the program has the potential to include groups of people who would otherwise be left behind due to low uptake of reproductive health interventions partly attributed to cultural, religious barriers, myths and misconceptions.
The 6 million contained in the agreement signed today and other resources that will be mobilized in the future will therefore be essential in scaling RMNCAH programs in the Frontier Counties thereby ensuring that no one is left behind.