Two Kenyans named among top 100 global thinkers

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 Fredros Okumu, a Kenyan-born malaria researcher, works for Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania.

Two Kenyan-born researchers have been listed among the top 100 global thinkers for 2016 by a leading US publication.

The first is US-based Moka Lantum, who founded the 2020 MicroClinic’s Initiative in Kakamega to get more expectant women to health facilities to reduce maternal deaths.

Fredros Okumu, a Kenyan-born malaria researcher who works for Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, was also recognised under the innovators category.

The two join a star-studded list that includes Hilary Clinton, Ban ki-Moon, Melinda Gates, Nicola Sturgeon and Angela Merkel in the current issue of the Foreign Policy magazine.

Moka’s signature programme, Operation Karibu, offers baby clothes, emergency transportation, birth preparation, infant care training, and safe deliveries to thousands of mothers in rural Kenya.

For 30 days following a delivery, staffers monitor the mother and newborn.

After three years with zero mortalities, Karibu is now expanding to six new facilities in more counties—planning to reach thousands of additional mothers over the next two years.

Kenya has one of the highest rates of maternal and newborn mortality in the world.

Moka Lantum, who founded the 2020 MicroClinic’s Initiative in Kakamega.

The Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014 says the maternal mortality ratio is at 362 deaths per 100,000 live births.

In other words, for every 1,000 live births in Kenya in the seven years preceding the 2014 KDHS, approximately four women died during pregnancy, during childbirth, or within two months of childbirth.

Moka and the initiative’s executive director Lynne Davidson, were recognised under the healers category.

Fredros Okumu and the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania were recognised for developing a cheap shoe that releases mosquito repellent for six months, preventing a variety of diseases like Malaria and potentially zika virus.

“In places where open-toed shoes are the norm, this intervention could be a lifesaver,” the publication said.

“That’s because the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is largely responsible for the spread of Zika, is known for biting ankles, according to the World Health Organisation.”

The project was funded by Usaid.

Foreign Policy annually shines the spotlight on preeminent thought-leaders and public intellectuals worldwide in its issue, “100 Leading Global Thinkers.”

The other 2016 honorees include a wide range of global leaders, advocates, innovators, artists, moguls, and stewards.

-the-star.co.ke

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