Ladies and Gentlemen
Please be seated. Thank you all very much. It is a pleasure to join you today.
When Kenya attained independence, half a century ago, our enemies were clear: ignorance, disease, and poverty. Perhaps the deadliest of these was disease. Now, Kenyans and their friends, throughout our independent history, have fought that fight —the fight against disease — with determination and diligence.
Progress has not always been as fast as we might have hoped, but we are winning it. Many of you here were born after independence, so you might not remember that our life expectancy in those days was only about 35.
Over the years, that has risen sharply: those of us born today can expect to live into our 60s and beyond.
But for all that, we must admit there is far more to do: too many of our people still die young; too many of us have their lives stunted or cut short by avoidable diseases or disorders; and too many of our mothers still do not have the help they need when they give birth.
So it is a special pleasure to recognize today one of the most valiant fighters in that cause: I mean, of course, the hospital we visit today. Indeed, they were in the midst of it even before we won independence, for what we now know as the AIC Hospital was founded as long ago as 1915.
Over a century, what began as a small mission-post clinic has grown into a hospital serving Kenyans right across our country.
Throughout that time, it has maintained the highest standards of care, and of ethics. Since its founding, under the auspices of the Africa Inland Mission, the hospital has lived up to the mandate given to the disciples of Christ: to heal the sick, and to take care of the least of our brothers and sisters.
It is these values that have sustained it for more than a century, and will sustain it for a century more. Indeed, I dare say that these values ought to be emulated by other Kenyans, if they hope to serve their country, and to build it as successfully as you have.
Year by year, you have built on what you found. New services have been added: from a small clinic, to a maternity ward, to a nursing school, then dental services, and the infrastructure needed for surgery. Now, at long last, you have added a children’s wing — the Bethany Kids’ Wing.
You could not have done this without the most careful and prudent management of your resources, nor could you have done it without the tenacious commitment to your mission that you have shown throughout your history. The completion of the wing makes an additional 70 beds available for the use of our children. I am very glad to join you today at the opening of the facility, and I commend you most warmly for your success, and your compassion. Let me also recognize the friends and partners whose support has made your success possible.
Nevertheless, I must ask you to do more. Kenya still faces a shortfall in trained medical personnel. Indeed, when my Government began to implement its manifesto promise to make it possible for every expectant mother in Kenya to deliver in a medical facility, we found that one of our toughest constraints was the shortage of trained Kenyans.
It was clear to us, and I am sure it is clear to you, that we need more, and better-trained young people to take up the mission of caring for Kenyans.
Already, I know that you have done extraordinarily well in training nurses here — and that your standards are high and rising. But, now that you have successfully built this ward, it is time to think of the next project.
This is the time to rest — but not to rest on your laurels. And my suggestion to you is that you consider expanding your training facilities.
Your county, and your country, need far more dedicated young men and women, and where better to find them than in this place, which has proved its ability to meet the most basic needs of Kenyans for the last century?
With these few words, and with joy and gratitude for all you have done, it is my pleasure now to declare the Bethany Kids Wing officially open.
Thank you. God bless you all, and God bless Kenya.