April 26th 2017

Magazine / Gender Matters

Is this Kenya's most effective first lady?

“We started checkups in February and we are almost finishing. I ask you to tell our people to come forth to be screened. In October the governor will deliver the report to the county assembly”, she said.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 23 Sep 2016 18:58 EAT

Mrs. Munya helps a child with reading under her "Meru First Lady Reading Club" campaign.

The first lady of Meru County is making waves with a public campaign on cancer that has won accolades from the region’s health stakeholders and residents alike.

Mrs Phoebe Munya, the wife of Governor Peter Munya, has visited numerous hospitals in the county and marshalled public health exercises aimed at increasing awareness on the disease and promoting testing, early detection and treatment of cancer patients.

Due to the increased profile the first lady has given the exercise and the high number of residents turning up, the governor is now pushing his Members of the County Assembly to allocate a kitty to support cancer diagnosis and treatment. The wives of nearly all the 47 governors are engaged in one charitable activity or another, but it is rare to find one that commands as much respect among the residents, county government staff and independent stakeholders as does Mrs. Munya.

The first lady announced last week that Governor Munya will soon table a report on cancer screening exercise to the county assembly and a petition for members to debate approve financial allocation to the kitty.

“Since we began the checkups in February, more and more people are turning up. Our plan is to have a reliable baseline by October so that the governor will know exactly what the needs are as he makes a request to the County Assembly,” she said, urging more residents to come out for testing.

The first lady's initiative has won praise from the residents and officials and county government officials. The County Executive Member for Water and Natural Resources Mary Mwiti took her father to a cancer screening exercise. The old man was diagnosed with prostate cancer but has not got the treatment he required.

“When we got to know of my father’s status, we immediately acted by taking him to Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital where he was operated on. He is very healthy today,” said the official, whose father is among dozens of patients who have gone through the programme.

An MCA, Samson Thuranira of Ntima West Ward, who is among the leading promoters of the initiative has urged the residents to make use of the county government facilities to know their health statuses and seek help at early stages.

Mrs. Munya is also active in education programmes. Last year, she was honoured by the Kenya Library Association for her efforts to promote reading culture through her "Meru First Lady Reading Club" campaign.

The Kenya Library Association chairman Dr Tirong arap Tanui, while conferring the honour upon the first lady, applauded her for the initiative set to change the lives of school going children in Meru.

Mrs Munya serves as the secretary of the First Ladies Association which brings together the wives of all governors in Kenya.

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