SPEECH DELIVERED BY HON. BETH MUGO, EGH, MP, MINISTER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND SANITATION DURING THE LAUNCH OF THE 2008/9 OF KENYA DEMOGRAPHIC AND HEALTH SURVEY AT HOTEL INTERCONTINENTAL, ON 15TH JUNE, 2010
KNBS Board of Directors,
Director General, KNBS,
Senior government officials,
Representatives of Donor Community,
Representatives from the NGO community,
Ladies and Gentlemen. Today marks a special occasion - the launch of the 2008-09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, or as we all know it, the Kenya DHS. This survey is a result of combined efforts of several individuals and organizations. Before I give credit to all those who made this day possible, allow me to explain why I am so proud to be here today.
We have many enduring customs and institutions in our great nation. The DHS is one of them. Since 1989, we have carried out five DHSs in Kenya. Each survey adds to our collective understanding of the health, population, and living standards of our population.
The KDHS is designed to collect information on fertility levels, nuptiality, sexual activity, fertility preferences, awareness and use of family planning methods, breastfeeding practices, nutritional status of women and young children, childhood and maternal mortality, maternal and child health. The other aspects covered by the Survey are childhood illnesses, use of mosquito nets, domestic violence as well as information regarding HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. This is the second time HIV was tested in the KDHS after the first one in 2003.
As you can note, the DHS is a useful resource for all policy makers as well as the general public. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the breadth and depth of the information collected is unmatched by any other survey. For instance, the Kenya DHS will tell you how many girls are enrolled in school and how many women in each province can read. You can find out how many Kenyans think mosquitoes transmit HIV and how frequently women give birth in health care facilities with support from a doctor or midwife. And you can look at all these topics at the national level, at urban and rural levels, and in all of the 8 provinces of the country. Thus the 2008-09 Kenya DHS is a gold mine of information for everyone working to make Kenya a healthier and more prosperous nation.
Secondly, DHS surveys are popular for their emphasis on quality in every step of the process, from the design of the questionnaire, to the training of interviewers, to the monitoring of the data collection and close scrutiny of all of the data collected.
Third, DHS questionnaires, definitions, and procedures are very similar in every country. This makes it possible to compare survey results between countries, even countries as diverse as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Cameroun. You can make these comparisons and be confident that the different rates and estimates represent true differences in the countriesâ€™ health indicators and not merely differences in how the questions were asked or how the samples were selected.
Finally, we can look at trends over time. We can see how much progress Kenya has made in the past two decades in improving the lives of our citizens. As you heard this morning, this report brings us good news. The Kenya DHS indicates a number of positive improvements in our country. I am happy to report that the solid work of our government, our development partners, and many of you here today has paid off.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me mention just a few points:
First, it has been said that the health of a countryâ€™s young children reflects both its development status and its values. Here, as you have heard today, the advances Kenya has made are extraordinary. Infant mortality and under-five mortality have both declined by about one-third since 2003. More children are now surviving infancy and early childhood than at any other time in Kenyaâ€™s history.
It is however important to note that this is still lower than the targets under Millennium Development Goals.
Ladies and Gentlemen, on family planning, close to 39 percent of married women are now using modern contraceptives. This is welcome news after the last DHS which showed a stall in fertility decline and contraceptive use. But here again, we cannot become complacent. Kenyaâ€™s population is increasing rapidly. According to recent UN projections, our population will grow by about 1 million people a year and will reach 85 million in 2050. The impact of such population growth on our economy, our environment, and our infrastructure cannot be overstated. We must focus our efforts on the proven interventions that lead to smaller families - providing education for women, promoting behavior change through mass media communication, and providing high quality family planning services.
Other highlights of the survey findings indicate that almost 25% of households have electricity, an increase from 16 percent in 2003. More Kenyans currently own televisions - 28 percent of households - compared to only 18 percent in 2003. Ownership of mobile phones has tremendously increased. In 2003, only 13 percent of households owned any type of telephone. Now, 86 percent of urban households and 53 percent of rural households own mobile telephones.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the DHS is a rich source of information. It is, therefore, my appeal that all of us use the 2008-09 Kenya DHS to improve the living standards of our people.
Now, I wish to recognize the organizations that have contributed so much time, energy, and expertise to this enormous project. Many groups have been involved: the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the National AIDS Control Council, the National AIDS/STD Control Programme, the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, Kenya Medical Research Institute, the National Coordinating Agency for Population and Development. Staff from all of these organizations lent their expertise and experience to make this survey possible.
I also acknowledge interviewers, supervisors, health workers, and VCT counselors who traveled throughout Kenya, knocking on doors and spending hours talking to men and women, taking blood samples, facing a variety of challenges. All of you have done a tremendous job. You should feel very proud of what you have accomplished.
We also acknowledge the technical assistance and support from USAID for providing the funding and ICF Macro, the US Company that implements the Global DHS for providing technical support. We also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the other organizations that have funded this enterprise: the United National Population Fund, and the United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund, UNAIDS, and the World Bank. Without their generous support, this survey would not have been possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to assure you that the Kenya Government is determined to achieve goals sets in various planning documents such as the Millennium Development Goals and Vision 2030. With these few remarks, I wish to declare the results of the 2008/9 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey officially launched.