As 2019 begins, it’s an opportunity to reflect on 2018. During the Christmas holiday, the nativity scene of Mary and Joseph in a manger reminded me of our maternal child health indicators. No official records exist, but perhaps Mary too faced perhaps worse maternal and neonatal mortality risks than exist now.
Historians suggest that Joseph took Mary “home” to deliver close to his relatives in Bethlehem, a not uncommon occurrence among urbanites in informal settlements.
Traditionally, this is for the provision of family support for mothers. Their trek of about 105km, was quite arduous for a pregnant woman, even on a donkey.
Last year, as part of a series of articles on mobility and health, I had the privilege to traverse the city, logging a total of 1,786km assessing challenges as well as the potential impact of road projects to healthcare in Nairobi’s poorest neighbourhoods.
Most of the roads were funded by the World Bank, African Development Bank and Kenya Urban Roads Authority with a constellation of shorter cabro and bitumen ones done by constituency development fund and MCAs’ ward kitties.
Though not intended reasons for building roads, an overshadowed impact of such projects is what accessibility contributes to health outcomes.
This powerful yet overlooked part ought to be part of their narrative. Not just the length of roads built. The human element resonates better with people on the ground. For pregnancy-related complications, ease of mobility is particularly important, given the sometimes sudden and dramatic turn of events from ordinary to potential catastrophe around childbirth.
Given the time of labour, the majority of home deliveries are at night when insecurity and a lack of roads restrict movements of patients.
Proximity is king and when a 45-minute walk at night is translated to a 10-minute ride, the probability of delivery in a health facility rises. Ease of mobility for medics and community health workers also is important.
One series of five-year data analysis indicated that an average of 37 per cent deliveries occurred outside the hospital nationally.
In urban areas, while 55 per cent of deliveries are in public health facilities, 17 per cent still occur at home. This segment could be a big chunk of informal settlement dwellers.
In one of the facilities evaluated, metrics like antenatal care attendance frequency, distance radius to a facility delivery, all correlated with the lack of or presence of good roads.
In the Ngomongo-Babadogo area, a cul de sac and a small river that previously prevented mothers from accessing services 500m away. An ongoing tarmac road is already showing impact with mothers now moving easily. We have more to complain about, but on this metric, the Nairobi governor, MCAs and MPs serving such areas deserve a pat on the back. My best takes are Mathare-Huruma, Congo-Kawangware, Kasarani-Githurai, Dandora-Kariobangi-Korogocho link roads.
Happy New Year to this column’s readers!
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.