Kenya’s First Lady’s historic London Marathon run after barely six months training is a great shot in the arm for the child and maternal health sector; unfortunately, the President’s record after a year in office is not as illustrious.
For instance, with regards to progress in the health sector the President referenced his declaration of free maternal health care in all public hospital and the positive outcomes stemming from this initiative stating, “Before we came to power, we had already pledged to bring free health care to every expectant mother in the nation…trained medical staff in our facilities now attend to 66% of our deliveries, up from 44% barely a year ago.”
That’s a 22% increase, the statistic could simply indicate that more expectant mothers attended public hospitals as a result of the declaration. The statistic says nothing about the quality of service received or whether the move has resulted in the drop in maternal and child mortality rates. It would be great to know if the declaration was accompanied by a commensurate budgetary and human resources allocation.
Initial stories on the uptake of the free maternal health care service indicate otherwise. In fact they show that public hospitals have neither the staff nor the equipment to accommodate the increased demand. A situation that is likely to worsen if medical staff in public hospitals follow through with threats to strike over working conditions and salaries.
Making reference to the Jubilee administration’s promise to resettle all IDPs by the end of 2013 the President stated: “In September 2013 the government began the implementation of the cash payment programme for all IDPs that had not been resettled so far, a total of 8298 households. A total of 777 have received cash payments of Kshs. 400,000 per household total, totalling Kshs. 3.3 billion”
It is unclear whether this statement refers only to the 500,000 displaced from the 2007/2008 post-election violence or all IDPs i.e. the Mau Forest Evictees, PEV IDPs, Coast and Nyanza IDPs, squatters etc. If the statement refers to the latter then the statement may not be at all accurate, as several IDPs still remain in camps, informal settlements and in other areas where they stay displaced from their homes. The statement also obscures the fact that several PEV IDPs claimed they are yet to receive the funds as stated.
With regards to affirmative action the President referenced the setting aside of 30% of government tenders for youth, women and persons with disabilities. Again the statistics given say little about whether this is actually being implemented or if there has been any uptake of the government tenders by the said groups.
The President further stated a third of that the membership of the, “cabinet, senate and county assemblies are now women.” Although, the statistic on the women in the senate is true; it obscures the fact, none of the women in the Senate were elected and cannot cast votes when it on matters to do with counties. There is no woman governor in any of the 47 counties, and there are only 9 women’s deputy governors. In addition, there are counties in which there isn’t a single woman elected as a Member of the County Assembly.
While the President gave no specific statistics on the cost of living, he did make some statements which bare analysis. For instance he stated, “Recognising the need to contain the cost of living, and to improve the competitiveness of our economy, my government instituted measures and initiatives that will doubtlessly lead to a significant reduction of the cost of goods and services…We already have some results to show the price of basic commodities such as fuel, sugar and cooking fats were actually lower in February this year than they were in February 2013.” This whole statement begs a fact check, is the price of basic commodities (maize meal, sugar, wheat flour, oil, milk, and bread) lower now than it was in February 2013? What’s your take?