LETTERS: Big Four agenda builds on post-independence policies

A Beyond Zero mobile clinic in Uasin Gishu. FILE photo | nmg
A Beyond Zero mobile clinic in Uasin Gishu. FILE photo | nmg 

Independence in 1963 under founding president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta set the vision of eradicating disease, poverty and ignorance as key planks of transforming Kenya into a developing and economically viable country.

Kenya needed educated people with knowledge in running a government and rendering services in all sectors to spur growth. Airlifts in the 1950s and 1960s that produced highly educated Kenyans explain this drive and fight against ignorance.

Many schools were established as teachers, local and international-mostly missionaries, were recruited. An education system was put in place in Kenya to reflect the thinking of leaders as a contributor towards development. Since then, the education system has evolved in keeping with global trends and specifically with needs of Kenya.

Many commissions have been formed to come up with the best education system. Kenya is rolling out a new education system to keep abreast of happenings globally and serve the market needs of its population.

A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Kenyan leaders know this too well and hence have had health provision as a priority to its people. It is during the late Mzee Kenyatta’s rule that Kenyatta National Hospital, the largest referral hospital in East and Central Africa, was built.

Nyanza Referral Hospital was also built in a deal brokered by then vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in the early years of independence. Other district hospitals, medical training colleges and facilities and research institutions in the medical field were set up.

Former president Daniel arap Moi came up with the Nyayo Wards, which expanded general admission wards and specifically the maternity wing. Rift Valley General Hospital and Moi Referral Hospital, among others, were also developed during his tenure.

Provision of supplies and targeted medical intervention programmes were well streamlined during former president Mwai Kibaki’s rule with Kenya Medical Supplies Authority getting well-structured and adequate funding to distribute medical supplies throughout the country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled free maternity services in public medical facilities. This was followed by the Beyond Zero Campaign by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta to create awareness on maternal mortalityand providing a kitted mobile ambulances as a sustainable support to the initiative.

Though health is a devolved function, the national government stepped in to guarantee counties on leasing cancer and kidney disease treatment equipment to the tune of more than Sh38 billion.

This has eased pressure on Kenyatta National Hospital , which offered dialysis and cancer treatment services.

More medical personnel are being recruited and trained to offer services to a large number of patients.

Food is a critical ingredient for man’s survival on earth. Education, health and even job availability may have little meaning without food on the plate for every Kenyan.

Being a basic right under our constitution, food security has been a concern for all Kenyan governments right from independence. It varies, however, how each has approached the issue.

Mzee Kenyatta was very clear that for us to feed ourselves we needed to go back to our farms to produce food for our families and sell the surplus. Never in his tenure did we have to import food or get any foreign aid due to scarcity.

During the Moi era, State agencies in the agricultural sector were very active. Kibaki’s tenure had remarkable successes as he adopted a more consultative and stringent policy approach in agriculture and related sectors.

Assured food security for Kenyans with a substantial exploitation of the blue economy is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pillar of his second term legacy.

To actualise this, policy alignment which includes ways of ensuring more arable land is irrigated, dams are built and farmers are supplied with inputs such as fertiliser as well as access to loans.

John Burugu, devolution, governance and policy expert