The Council of Governors (COG) is seeking to collaborate with an international philanthropic Organization in accelerating health, protection, and education programs for children in the country.
In a meeting held between COG Chair, Governor Anne Waiguru, and Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) Founder Christopher Hohn, the council sought support in scaling up interventions aimed at transforming the lives of children.
The partnership also involves support for an innovative school feeding program, capacity building of Community Health Workers (CHWs), and implementation of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects.
“We have held very fruitful discussions on how counties can forge strategic partnerships with CIFF in order to scale up interventions for community transformation through initiatives such as school feeding and WASH programs, neonatal and child healthcare, child protection as well as support for Community Health Workers (CHWs),” the governor said after meeting with CIFF top officials.
Hohn said that his organization is willing to collaborate on a 50/50 cost-sharing basis with County Governments in the promotion of community health through capacity building of CHWs and providing them with digital equipment for capturing data and measuring the progress of implementation of interventions such as newborn survival rates.
The organization will also help counties to equip maternity hospitals and newborn units with an aim of reducing neonatal mortality.
The two entities also discussed collaborating on implementing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects including the construction of toilets in schools and hospitals.
Hohn said that similar projects have been successfully implemented in Ethiopia, Zambia, and Malawi in partnership with the respective governments.
“We aim at eliminating all barriers to the successful realization of child health and education goal,” said Hohn.
Waiguru commended the cost-sharing approach saying that it enhances ownership of the programs by the governments and the communities. She noted that lack of proper nutrition has been a contributing factor to children dropping out school and dismal academic performance.
“Through these partnerships, counties can implement school feeding programs, especially in Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) centers that are run by the county governments’, observed Waiguru.
She noted the need to scale up models for resilient food systems such as involving the communities in growing food for supply in neighborhood schools.
To further cut the cost of running school feeding programs, the governor said that parents could be involved in provision of labor whereby they will take turns to volunteer in cooking for the children.
Currently, there is no uniform school-feeding model for schools in Kenya, which leaves individual schools to figure out what best works for them.
While some governments subsidize school feeding, other schools have arranged with parents to sponsor the program. Children in schools that do not operate such a program have to carry food from home, with some going to school without food. Other schools provide only porridge to their children.
She said that even though various counties have diverse needs, there are cross cutting issues that affect all counties such as provision of healthcare and education, adding that through consultations, counties will be able to propose the specific areas in which they wish to partner.
“There is a need to invest in preventive health care so as to cut the high cost of treatment which has been a burden to citizens and governments,” said the governor, noting that improved child nutrition and sanitation go a long way in disease prevention.
The governor said that the council will in the next five years focus on strengthening the healthcare systems to ensure better outcomes pointing out the need to scale up the performance and quality management models and quality care provided by Community Health Workers (CHWs).
Waiguru emphasized that services rendered by community health workers were very critical in promotion of primary health care and public health since they are the closest link between the community and the formal healthcare system.
In Kenya, there are 89,670 Community Health Volunteers who equip families with knowledge and skills to prevent diseases and promote good nutrition, sanitation and hygiene as well as link families to essential services.
CIFF is a philanthropic organization that seeks to transform the lives of children and adolescents by focusing on investment with transformative potential by providing integrated solutions that follow children along their life course.
Their priority areas include child health, child protection, and education. Last year, the organization invested 500 million dollars in the implementation of various programs across the globe.
By Irungu Mwangi