SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H., PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCES DURING THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION MANAGEMENT MEETING, ON 10TH DECEMBER 2018

On April 17, 2019 In Speeches & Statements

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of Kenya, I am profoundly delighted to welcome you to Nairobi for this very important meeting in your organisations’ calendar. I note that Kenya is the first country to host this meeting outside the WHO Headquarters in Geneva. This, indeed, is a testament to the strong bond of friendship and collaboration that we continue to share over the years and speaks to even greater cooperation in the future, as we seek to individually and collectively achieve our goals and aspirations. Ladies and Gentlemen, The global health community and indeed the sub-Saharan Africa region has recorded remarkable progress in key health indicators towards the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, especially in reducing under-5 mortality, increasing the coverage of HIV treatment and reducing cases of deaths from tuberculosis. However, we continue to grapple with addressing the social determinants of health, poverty and inequality in addition to persistent health challenges such as weak health systems, malaria, drug-resistant tuberculosis, mental health, all of which could easily erode the gains that were made during the MDG era. I am informed that this meeting is of utmost importance to World Health Organisation and to the entire global health fraternity, as you commence the implementation of the 13th General Programme of Work, 2019-2023. The theme of this meeting resonates very well with my Administration’s Agenda for development. During my inauguration for the second term in office last year, I prioritised the attainment of Affordable Healthcare for All as one of the Big Four Priorities for my Government for the period 2019-2022. This is in line with the Constitution of Kenya, which makes it clear that every Kenyan has the right to affordable healthcare that is of quality and responsive to their needs. Over the past years, my Government has progressively increased financing for the health sector and implemented various initiatives, aimed at promoting equity and targeting those most vulnerable amongst our population. Most notably, we continue to offer free maternity services to Kenyan mothers in public and faith-based facilities; we have also eliminated user fees in all public primary care facilities, coupled with the introduction of programmes such as the Health Insurance subsidy programme and the scheme covering the elderly and severely disabled. Ladies and Gentlemen, Much as we have made good progress in uplifting the health of our people, we too know that gaps still exist in terms of service coverage, quality and human resources for health distribution across the country. It is, therefore, with this realisation that we view the attainment of Universal Health Care not as a destination but as a continuous process, which will involve constant widening of the social safety nets to ensure that we leave no one behind as we strive to achieve our national health aspirations. It should concern all of us that nearly half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential health services; and that almost 12% of the world’s population spend, at least 10% of their household budgets, to pay for health care. Every year, one million Kenyans are driven below the poverty line by healthcare-related expenditures. Poverty predisposes vulnerable Kenyans to disease and slows all aspects of growth in the economy. To make Universal Health Care a reality by 2030, we must sustain the momentum generated by the MDGs in order to attain SDG targets. SDG 3 aspires to ensure health and well-being for all through Universal Health Coverage, expanding access to safe, affordable, effective medicines and vaccines for all through research and development. We need to build on new evidence; increase resilience of health systems; improve the quality of health services and equitable coverage and work with health-enhancing sectors to meet this goal. Constraints in health resources due to increased health demands, requires funding innovations and increased inter-sectoral collaboration to meet the needs of our people. Two months ago, global health leaders met in Astana, Kazakhstan to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Healthcare. The Astana Declaration on Primary Health Care urges governments to give high priority to Primary healthcare, including in non-health sectors, in partnership with public and private sector organizations, development partners and other non-state actors. It is with this in mind that our approach to Universal Health Care has a strong focus on Primary Health Care and to the fundamentals of health promotion and disease prevention, addressing determinants of health. This, we believe, will yield a more sustainable Universal Health Care model for Kenya. I wish to extend an invitation to you all to join Kenyans on 13th December, in Kisumu Town as we launch the Universal Health Care pilot. As I conclude, I take this opportunity to wish you fruitful deliberations over the next two days. It is my hope that your deliberations will translate into tangible benefits for the global community. With these remarks, it is now my pleasure to declare the 2018 World Health Organization Global Management Meeting officially open. Asanteni sana.

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