Dr. Lilian Otiso Speech at the launch of the 5th edition of the Beyond Zero safaris in Nairobi County
Your excellency, the first lady of the Republic of Kenya Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta, Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen, all protocols observed
It gives me great joy and honour to stand before you on this occasion of the 5th edition of the Beyond Zero medical Safari Celebration.
LVCT health is a Kenyan NGO that exists to address the health needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society including youth, women and children just like Beyond Zero. For the last 19 years we have worked with government to lead in provision of HIV services, sexual reproductive health and gender based violence services to millions of Kenyans across 25 counties. We have led in provision of HIV testing and counselling services in the country pioneering innovations such as VCT, provider initiated testing and counselling and even HIV self-testing. We welcome all of you to visit our tents and get to know your HIV status today. We are also offering free cervical cancer screening and treatment
Today’s celebration is a key milestone towards the Kenyan government commitment to achieve Universal Health Coverage by the year 2022. LVCT supports this goal and has directly contributed to ensuring the vulnerable populations we work with access quality health care at the community or facility level. We reach over 1 million Kenyans annually through our services.
LVCT Health prides itself in being a champion of adolescents and young people. LVCT implements ‘one2one’ Kenya, a digital platform that provides confidential information on HIV and sexual reproductive health services. It is the largest HIV call center in East and Central Africa. Through this platform over 6 million young people were reached last year. Call 1190 from your phone today for free services.
Visualize Monica, a 16 year old girl from Korogocho who dropped out of school in form 2. She is forced to sell her body for sex to buy food and diapers for her 9 month old baby. Monica is an example of the more than 50,000 adolescent girls and young women LVCT reaches every year through the PEPFAR funded DREAMS program. Through this program, we have enabled over 8,000 to go to school and many more to gain life skills and financial literacy. Our dream is to ensure these girls remain in school and become financially independent. As they say ‘ if you educate a woman, you educate a nation’.
Now picture this, Joyce, a 22 year old lady from Homa Bay County is married to a polygamous fisherman with 3 wives who does not provide for her and her 3 children and numerously abuses her. Joyce lives in poverty and her children are malnourished. Through DREAMS, we were able to train her on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and provide a sh3000 business start-up loan. Joyce is now an Omena wholesaler earning sh 3000 per week who is respected by her husband and feeds her children well.
Our dream is therefore to reach over 100,000 girls in slums and rural areas over the next 2 years whom we know will eventually contribute to the health and economy of this nation. We are excited to partner with Beyond Zero, the government, other partners and donors towards this journey of transforming lives of women and girls in Kenya.