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Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

 

Zimbabwe election: Emmerson Mnangagwa wins presidential poll

By BBC
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President Emmerson Mnangagwa has won Zimbabwe’s presidential election, according to the country’s electoral commission.

With all 10 provinces declared, Mr Mnangagwa won 50.8% of votes to 44.3% for opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

Police removed opposition officials from the electoral commission stage when they rejected the results.

SKULDUGGERY

The chairman of Mr Chamisa’s MDC Alliance said the count could not be verified.

By winning more than 50% of the vote, Mr Mnangagwa avoided a second run-off election against Mr Chamisa.

Mr Chamisa has insisted he has won the presidential poll, telling reporters on Thursday the ruling Zanu-PF party was “trying to bastardise the result”, something that “we will not allow”.

But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) said there was “absolutely no skulduggery”.

REPRESSIVE

Opposition supporters protested in Harare over alleged vote-rigging, which led to six deaths on Wednesday.

The elections were the first since long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, 94, was ousted in November last year.

The polls were intended to set Zimbabwe on a new path following Mr Mugabe’s repressive rule.

DEFUSE CRISIS

Harare was a ghost town on Thursday following Wednesday’s violence, as troops patrolled the city centre ordering people to “behave”.

Mr Mnangagwa said the government was in talks with Mr Chamisa to defuse the crisis and proposed an independent investigation to bring those who were behind the violence to justice.

“This land is home to all of us, and we will sink or swim together,” Mr Mnangagwa said in a series of tweets.

Has his plea been heeded?

NO VIOLENCE

No violence was reported on Thursday. A truckload of armed policemen and soldiers were driving around the city shouting, “Behave yourself, people of Zimbabwe.”

Riot police raided the headquarters of the MDC Alliance, and detained about 10 people.

A BBC reporter in Harare says the city centre is like a ghost town.


Stop Zimbabwe poll chaos

Zimbabwe is back in the news with several people reported killed in post-election violence. Ironically, millions had peacefully queued across the country to cast their ballots but the delay in announcing the results, especially of the presidential poll, sparked the protests.

In scenes reminiscent of the bloodletting following Kenya’s bungled 2007 elections, supporters of the opposition MDC party claim that the poll has been rigged, and the situation has become chaotic with police and the military battling mobs in the capital Harare.

After the ouster of long-time president Robert Mugabe in November, there had been optimism that the southern African country was on the mend. However, the hotly disputed elections show that the relative calm, under new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa, could just have been a lull before the storm.

At the heart of the protests is lack of confidence in those managing elections in Africa. While it’s generally acknowledged that these elections have been better organised than during the long reign of freedom fighter-turned dictator Mugabe, suspicion is still rife.

DEMOCRATISE

The crisis is a huge setback in efforts to democratise Africa and enable the true will of the people to emerge in elections. The international community, especially the United Nations, and the African Union and major powers such as the United Kingdom and the United States, should intervene to stop the slide into anarchy.

The ruling ZANU-PF and the MDC should be prevailed upon to calm down their supporters and let the electoral commission conclude its job. After all, aggrieved parties can challenge the results in court. While the security forces must stop the destruction of property, they must also restrain themselves from using excessive force. The competition for leadership notwithstanding, Zimbabwe must not be left to go to the dogs.


Parliament must not intimidate the media

The National Assembly understands pretty well the role of the media in the democratic process. All institutions of government must be kept under check to ensure they deliver on their mandates. This is why the media cover parliamentary proceedings as a matter of routine. The media operate on the premise that voters have to be kept abreast, at all times, of what their leaders do — the laws they pass and how they play their oversight role on finances and other public interest matters.

It is for this reason that we are appalled by the latest development, where a parliamentary committee has summoned two journalists to appear before it over a story they wrote. Although the assembly has since revised the language to indicate that the journalists were only invited — not summoned — to clarify issues about the story, the principle is wrong and stands condemned. In any case, why would MPs invite journalists to clarify issues over a story they wrote? What do they want to find out?

INTERROGATION

The practice is well established in law. Anybody, or any institution, with a beef against the media has recourse in established agencies such as the Media Council of Kenya’s Complaints Commission. It is not the business of a parliamentary committee to summon journalists to appear before it for interrogation. Neither is it the business of journalists to appear before House committees to explain what they do.

What has galled the MPs is the fact that the story raised questions about the integrity of the House. Yet, arguably, that is not new. The performance of MPs has often been questioned. Some of the decisions they make are baffling. Among themselves, MPs have always traded accusations over suspected cases of bribery, perceived to have even compromised debates or committee reports.

The argument we are making is that Parliament, as the custodian of civil liberties, should be the last institution to put undue pressure on journalists. It should be the last vanguard in the protection of civil rights. It must allow journalists to carry out their work without interference or intimidation.

DEMOCRATIC

We have made several gains in expanding the democratic space through express legal and policy articulations. Freedoms of expression and the media, as well as access to information, are anchored in the Constitution and associated Statutes.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi should pronounce himself on this matter clearly and, importantly, stop the summonses. Parliament must play its role in sustaining democratic practices, enhancing the rule of law and creating a fair and just society. It must stop intimidating journalists and undermining media freedoms.


Change of attitude to healthcare can help to decongest hospitals

By RITA OWINO
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Every few weeks a news headline pops up that one of the referral hospitals in Kenya is reeling with patients. Little wonder that the recent Daily Nation report on the congestion at Kiambu Level 5 Hospital caused merely minor ripples in the form of public outrage.

Even with the Treasury recently allocating Sh2 billion to free primary healthcare, more patients still prefer referral hospitals to their local clinics and health centres.

Earlier this year, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki pointed out that Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital at Eldoret were more than 180 per cent congested. It is common for patients to share beds, contract infections from the unhygienic conditions or even die before getting the doctor’s attention.

SPECIALISED CARE

On paper, patients are encouraged to visit the health centre nearest to their homes as their primary point of contact. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines primary healthcare (PHC) as the first point of contact for individuals within a healthcare system, noting that it should “provide comprehensive, accessible, community-based care that meets the health needs of individuals throughout their life”.

It further notes that PHC ranges from health promotion to palliative care that can meet 80-90 per cent of an individual’s health needs over the course of their life. Ideally, referral hospitals should handle patients referred by lower hospitals that cannot offer the needed specialised care. But it is common to see people travel hundreds of kilometres to a referral hospital to get treatment for a condition that could have been addressed a walking distance from home.

KNH data shows about 46 per cent of their patients come from Nairobi County. Patients from Kiambu make up, 13 per cent, Machakos, 6.3 per cent, Kajiado 5.6 per cent and Murang’a 4.3 per cent. Many of them do not have a referral from their local hospitals.

Indeed, this bypassing of primary care centres is often justified, especially in cases that are more serious. Furthermore, many Kenyans understandably go straight for the referral hospitals because their previous experience with primary care facilities was less than satisfactory.

DISCOUNTED COST

The local health centres are often understaffed and under-equipped. Repeated efforts by government to equip them have revealed that more work still needs to be done to change the attitude of patients. After decades of bad experience at local health centres — absent doctors or the lack of necessary equipment and medicine — many Kenyans now simply bypass even those primary care centres that are actually equipped to help them.

This calls for more deliberate change-of-attitude campaigns among policymakers and those managing primary care facilities. For instance, health facilities should begin promoting themselves by highlighting the services that they provide rather than simply carrying the title of a “hospital” or “health centre”. This will prompt patients to stop and think before defaulting to the referral hospitals.

Since referral hospitals cannot, by law, turn away patients, the government should give incentives for the primary care option, especially in areas where the centres are equipped to handle the numbers and the ailments. This may include discounted cost of consultation and care.

DIAGNOSTIC TOOL

This year’s budgetary allocation of Sh2.5 billion for the roll-out of universal health coverage (UHC) to four counties on a pilot basis is a step in the right direction.

Local care centres should also carry out health drives in the surrounding communities, to cultivate an ethos for primary care. By integrating primary healthcare into other aspects of local community and social engagement, it will be easier for the residents to think of these centres as their first point of contact.

Still, these psychological and sociological tactics can never replace the fact that, in order to work, primary care centres need to be well equipped and adequately staffed. An ethos for prioritising primary care is not a medical diagnostic tool.

LESS THAN IDEAL

Goodwill can never replace antibiotics. These lower-level hospitals must be refurbished. The number of specialists there should be increased and modern equipment installed.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board says that 80 per cent of doctors in Kenya are based in Nairobi and Mombasa — many of them by choice. Many of these doctors cite the lack of medical equipment at the primary care facilities, which further complicates their work and makes them liable to offering less-than-ideal patient care.

While a change of attitude is necessary, however, it is secondary to the capacity challenges that stand in the way of healthcare delivery.

Ms Owino is the market development director for General Electric (GE) Africa, Healthcare Division


Staff fleecing courts in fake receipts scam

By CONSTANT MUNDA
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Taxpayers may be losing millions of shillings to a fraudulent scheme run by staff at the Milimani Law Courts registries, a fresh internal audit recommending action by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations shows.

The audit ha established that staff at the registries pocketed at least Sh40 million in 2016 and 2017 in court fees through fraudulent activities such as use of fake receipt books, alteration of receipts and parallel receipts. This may be just a tip of the iceberg, as corruption by court orderlies is believed to be widespread across the country.

At least Sh36 million was stolen using fake receipts alone, the assessment conducted by the Audit and Risk Management Directorate of the Judiciary established, pointing to weak controls in management of accountable documents.

PUBLIC FUNDS

The bulk of cash was lost at the Commercial and Tax Division registry where Sh26.07 million was pocketed using 371 fake receipts which were not recorded in the Counter Receipt Book Register — the Judiciary’s official record.

The Environment and Land registry lost Sh7.57 million to the fake receipt racket while a further Sh498,635 went missing at the Civil Division.

“The amount receipted using the fake receipts were not traced to the bank statement leading to loss of public funds. It was not immediately possible to determine the source of the fake receipts that were used to embezzle the public funds,” the auditors, led by the directorate’s acting head Ronald Wanyama, say in the report.

“However, a keen observation of the records maintained in the accounts section at the Milimani Law Courts revealed that the handwriting in some of the fake receipts with collections totalling Sh1.7 million was similar to the handwriting of the staff who maintained the revenue cash book at the courts station.”

The Judiciary lost a further Sh2.16 million to parallel receipts, which had identical serial numbers to the genuine, pointing to existence of a parallel receipt book.

“Although only 30 parallel receipts came to the attention of the auditors during the review of case files, more parallel receipts might have been issued since a receipt book contains 50 receipts. Consequently, a huge amount of public funds might have been lost as a result of parallel receipts,” the audit states.

REQUISITION

The auditors blame lack of designated staff to request receipt books from the headquarters for existence of parallel receipts at Milimani, an anomaly the court’s management said has since been corrected through appointment of specific staff to collect the receipt books.

The auditors fault the management of the Milimani Law Courts for not having designated staff to collect accountable documents such as receipt books on the court’s behalf.

“As per the best practice, the management of the court station is responsible for instituting controls to ensure that specific staff are responsible for collecting and keeping accountable documents and that requisition and issuance … is documented,” the auditors say.

ACCOUNTABLE

This is against section 16.2 (d) of the Judiciary Finance Policy and procedures manual, which requires holders of accountable documents to track movement and usage of accountable documents. Other fraudulent activities where public funds were siphoned off include collection of cash which was not banked (Sh1.39 million) and alteration of receipt books (Sh463,000).

The auditors have recommended that the chief registrar of the Judiciary, Ms Anne Amadi, reports the loss of revenue through fake and parallel receipts to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) for further investigation, arrest and prosecution of the culprits.


Court halts auction of ranch in loan dispute

By BERNARDINE MUTANU
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More than 3,000 people living in the 66,862.5 acres Giriama Ranch in Kilifi County have breathed a sigh of relief after a Mombasa court stopped auctioning of the property over Sh285 million debt.

High Court judge Dorah Chepkwony temporarily suspended the sale of the land to allow a suit filed by ranch directors to be heard and determined.

Justice Chepwony certified the matter as urgent and issued temporary orders stopping the defendants, its agents or any other person acting on their behalf from selling the ranch.

The ranch directors asked the court to stop Development Bank of Kenya Ltd and Garam Investment auctioneers from selling the property that is scheduled to be sold through public auction on August 6 in Mombasa.

The ranch in a suit filed through lawyer William Kenga argues the ranch has never applied for a loan using the suit premises as security.

Mr Kenga argued that the company has a loan that was advanced to them by Agricultural Finance Corporation on July 16,1999, which was then written off by the corporation.

He said the company was surprised when it saw an advert in the local dailies informing the public that the ranch would be sold by public auction to purportedly recover undisclosed loan.

“The plaintiff avers and maintains that it has never applied for a loan, neither has it been advanced any loan sum by the bank and further it has never offered its property, the suit premises as a security,” said Mr Kenga.

“The plaintiff has never acted as a guarantor for the payment of the purported loan and therefore unable to understand why the defendants would wish to auction the suit premises,” he added.

The lawyer noted that if at all the company was advanced a loan facility or acted as a guarantor, which is strongly denied, the defendants have acted in violation of the law by failing to serve them with a notice of the sale of the suit property before the planned auction.

Relying on an affidavit sworn by one of the directors Menza Shikari, the lawyer said even if the company owes the defendants any money, the respondents are in violation of the provisions of the Land Act, which provides for equity of redemption.

“My client has no business or contractual relationship with Riva Oils Company, neither did the plaintiff authorise it to acquire loan from the bank. If there exists a purported loan arrangement between the bank and the company on account of suit premises being security, then such a transaction is a fraud,” Mr Kenga told court.


Principal's murder trial moves to Nakuru

By ERIC WAINAINA
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A case in which a former Icaciri Girls Secondary School principal has been charged with killing her husband Solomon Mwangi, who was also a High School head teacher, has been moved to the Nakuru High Court.

Ms Jane Muthoni and Isaac Ng’ang’a, alias Gikuyu, have been charged with killing the Kiru Boys’ High School principal whose body was recovered at a thicket at Karakuta in Juja, Kiambu County on November 2016.

NEW STATION

On Thursday, the prosecution led by State Counsel Catherine Mwaniki and the defence through lawyer Francis Njanja requested Justice Joel Ngugi, who was moved from Kiambu to Nakuru in March, to continue hearing the matter at his new station.

Ms Mwaniki said it’s the prosecution’s wish that the matter be heard and determined by Justice Ngugi, a position that was backed by the defence on grounds that “it will be the most convenient thing to do.”

“If you would agree, we can take hearing dates before you in Nakuru so that you can continue hearing this matter to the end,” Ms Mwaniki prayed to Justice Ngugi.

The matter was scheduled for hearing on Thursday, with three expert witnesses and two police officers expected to testify, but Ms Muthoni, was unwell and therefore not in a position to proceed.

Justice Njugi welcomed the application, saying it was no longer possible for him to continue travelling to Kiambu to hear the matter which has had to be adjourned several times due to issues on the defence side.

The Judge directed that the matter be mentioned on September 18 at the Kiambu High Court for further directions on how it will be moved to Nakuru and setting hearing dates.


City trader sues Kanu in row over Sh100m land deal

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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A Nairobi businessman has sued Kanu for failing to complete a Sh100 million land sale deal.

Mr Peter Njoroge Karanja, the managing director of Bestlady Cosmetics Shop Ltd, said the sale agreement for the parcel in Nanyuki town, Laikipia County, was not executed due to internal wrangles between the party chairman and secretary.

Mr Karanja said the political party agreed to dispose of the quarter acre to him to expand his business.

According to documents filed at the High Court in Nyeri, the sale agreement was certified and signed by Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and secretary-general Nick Salat on October 14, 2017, before lawyer SK Kiplagat.

The businessman indicated that he made the offer to purchase the land on October 2, 2017, at Sh100 million, an offer which was accepted by the political party through lawyer Titus Koceyo, trading as Koceyo & Company Advocates, who is listed as second defendant in the case.

Through lawyer Gachie Mwanza, the businessman said he proceeded to execute the sale agreement drawn by Mr Koceyo and paid a deposit of Sh10 million. The 10 per cent deposit was made to Mr Koceyo’s bank account on October 6, 2017.

He argued that the lawyer received the money as the trustee of both parties and who owed a duty of care to the plaintiff to release the funds to Kanu. The sale agreement had a completion period of 90 days upon payment of the balance of Sh90 million.

Mr Karanja said he later learnt that internal disputes had arisen within Kanu where the chairman and the secretary disagreed on many fronts relating to the transaction including which law firm would act for the political party.

“The differences had caused them to refuse to execute the sale agreement prompting the plaintiff to demand for the signed agreement failure to which he would opt out and leave them handling their internal wrangles without trying his money. As it was evident that 90 days would lapse with nothing to show from the part of Kanu,” Mr Mwanza said.

PROTESTATIONS

Despite the businessman’s protestations, Mr Koceyo was unable to forward the signed sale agreement.

About a month after deposit had been made, the plaintiff received communication that Mr Koceyo had transferred Sh6,450,000 to Kipkenda & Company Advocates.

“An entity (Kipkenda & Company Advocates) that had no role to play in the transaction as entered into by the plaintiff, leading to the plaintiff’s advocates writing to seek answers from both lawyers. It was further revealed that a sum of Sh1,550,000 had been released in cash by Mr Koceyo to Kanu,” indicated the trader’s lawyer.

According to him, Kanu cannot receive money by cash, being an institution. He added that Mr Koceyo retained the balance of Sh2 million as broker’s fees.

It was not until December 14, 2017, that Mr Karanja’s lawyer received communication from Kipkenda advocates to the effect that they (Kanu) had returned the money received from Mr Koceyo. The communication also indicated that Mr Koceyo was now required to refund the entire 10 per cent since the transaction had collapsed.

Mr Karanja argues that as an advocate of the High Court, Mr Koceyo owed him as well as his client a duty to exercise all due professional care, skill and diligence in relation to the plaintiff’s funds.

Further, he says, the lawyer was required to act merely as a trustee and in honesty, in relation to money placed under his custody for its intended use.

“Mr Koceyo acted negligently and in a deliberate manner when he released Sh1,550,000 to Kanu before they could execute the sale agreement, which amount Kanu wrongly, unjustifiably and unlawfully retains to date without showing any consideration,” said the businessman.

DEMANDED PROOF

The businessman wants Kanu and Mr Koceyo be compelled to refund him his Sh10 million at the rate of 20 per cent from October 2017 when he made the deposit.

He also wants damages for breach of contract as against Kanu, damages for negligence and breach of trust against Mr Koceyo.

In response, both Kanu and Mr Koceyo admitted receiving the Sh10 million from the businessman but said nowhere in the sale agreement was Mr Koceyo required to hold the money as trustee pending happening of any event.

The political party said there were no internal disputes between the party officials and demanded proof from the businessman.

UNPROFESSIONALLY

“It is not the business of the plaintiff to query the internal communication or relations of the party officials since that was not part of the sale transaction,” Mr Koceyo said.

He added that it was the businessman who had intent to frustrate the sale agreement by incessantly and unprofessionally approaching Kanu’s various officials separately.

He said Mr Karanja even attempted to interfere with Kanu’s advocates handling the transaction.

Mr Koceyo maintained that he discharged his duties for all parties to the transaction as is required by law.

NEGLIGENCE

He further said the suit is premature and incompetent as he denied allegations of negligence.

“Contract for sale has not aborted and is still on course and there is no communication by Kanu indicating that it was unable to complete the transaction. Mr Njoroge’s move to court is an attempt to unlawfully repudiate the contract from sale without any lawful excuse of justification,” indicated Mr Koceyo.

He added that the High Court in Nyeri does not have jurisdiction to hear the case since both parties executed the agreement in Nairobi.


New kit to test HIV load in blood within one hour

By ELIZABETH MERAB
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A new easy-to-use testing device that can accurately test the HIV load in blood within one hour has been developed.

The point-of-care kit is designed to provide healthcare professionals, especially in remote and rural areas with fast and accurate results to manage the virus.

Developed by an American healthcare company Abbott, the device known as m-PIMA HIV-1/2 VL was launched last week at the International Aids Society conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is a test kit of its kind and able to give an accurate viral load in less than 70 minute.

MORE ACCESSIBLE

The rapid turn-around time helps ensure that each patient who needs a viral load test result can get one in the same visit.

“The main issues that have been identified as important to the provision of effective diagnostic services are the ability to make them more accessible, user-friendly, and also at the same time, maintain quality and accuracy,” explained Dr Kuku Appiah, director of medical and scientific affairs in Africa for Abbott.

In Kenya currently, such viral load tests take several weeks before patients can get results.

GENETIC SAMPLE

Viral load is a term used to describe the amount of HIV in a person’s blood. The more HIV viruses there are in one’s blood (and therefore the higher your viral load), the greater the chances of falling ill because of HIV.

If there is too little HIV in your blood that your viral load is ‘undetectable’, then the risk of HIV being passed on during sex is extremely low, even if condoms are not used.

Viral load tests measure the amount of HIV’s genetic material in a blood sample. The results of a viral load test are described as the number of copies of HIV RNA in a millilitre of blood.

Currently, people have their blood samples drawn, which are then transported to a central lab.

TESTING CAPACITY

“In many countries, there’s a huge backlog for testing, and consequently, a delay in the receipt of test results in a time period that would help facilitate an earlier start of treatment, maintenance of the same treatment, or change in treatment,” said Dr Appiah.

Viral load testing capacity is still weak in some of the countries with the highest burden of HIV infection in Sub-Saharan Africa and needs urgent improvement according to findings from a seven-country study of viral load testing activity published in December last year.

There are more than 1,000 HIV treatment sites in Kenya where a patient’s viral load is tested annually.

ANTIRETROVIRAL TREATMENT

“At the beginning of treatment, patients are usually advised to check their viral loads every six months. If the drugs are working as they should, we advise them to test once every year,” said Dr Matilu Mwau, an infectious diseases specialist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

The World Health Organisation recommends that everyone taking antiretroviral treatment should receive a viral load test six months after starting treatment and every 12 months thereafter to check that viral suppression has been achieved and maintained.

Achieving a high level of viral suppression among people on antiretroviral treatment is also important for achieving the third 90:90:90 goal — 90 per cent of people on ART virally suppressed by 2020.

LIMITED TRAINING

Achieving this goal is projected to reduce HIV transmission as well as ensure the maximum health benefit from ART.

Some people, however, are not aware of their viral loads because they are not going for these tests. Further, experts think that about 400,000 people suspected to be HIV positive are not on treatment, hence adding to the risk.

“New technology needs to be sturdier, less temperature sensitive, and have the ability to be administered by healthcare professionals who may only have access to limited training. It also needs the ability to be provided at the point-of-care with access not only to testing but also to results within the same visit,” added Dr Appiah.

The test is anticipated to be available in 2019 in countries that have either a significant burden of HIV like Kenya, as well as countries that do not have centralised labs or good sample transport.


Let us promote breastfeeding to improve health of mother, child

In May, Kenyans came out harshly to criticise a restaurant in Nairobi’s city centre for allegedly throwing out a woman for breastfeeding her baby in public without covering herself.

This incident demonstrates the difficultly many mothers face today as they try to breastfeed in public places yet breast milk needs to be drained at two- to three-hour intervals to prevent mastitis and low milk supply.

The World Breastfeeding Week is being marked from August 1-7.

Breastfeeding is among the most effective ways to protect maternal and child health and promote healthy growth and optimal early childhood development.

FIRST VACCINE

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding from within one hour after birth until the baby is six months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added but still breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

Breastmilk includes colostrum, which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies and is the baby’s ‘first vaccine’. Breastfeeding can reduce Kenya’s under-five mortality rate, which stands at 37.1 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2017 estimates.

In addition to improving child survival and protecting against life-threatening and chronic illnesses, it also promotes healthy growth and boosts early child development. It supports healthy brain development and is associated with higher performance in intelligence tests among children and adolescents across all income levels. It also protects against post-partum haemorrhage and depression, ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

WITHOUT FEAR

To contribute to a positive environment for breastfeeding, we need policies guaranteeing parental leave and the right to breastfeed in the workplace. For example, a lactation room at the workplace can have mothers bring in their babies, leave them at the station with a nanny and get to see them any time.

Positive social norms can empower mothers to breastfeed, including in public spaces, without fear of reproach.

At health facilities, mothers need information and support to start breastfeeding immediately after birth. Support from trained community health volunteers, counsellors and peers, including other mothers and family members, also plays a key role.

SMART SOCIETIES

The governments can also enhance exclusive breastfeeding through supportive policies guaranteeing at least six months paid maternity leave and strong legislation regulating marketing of breastmilk substitutes.

Traditional birth attendants (TBAs) can be champions for breastfeeding.

Empowering and enabling women to breastfeed should be at the heart of countries’ efforts to keep every child alive and to build healthy, smart and productive societies.

Lennah Kanyangi, projects manager, Amref Health Africa in Kenya.