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Alarm raised over rising maternal deaths

14 March 2014, 18:07

Nairobi - The government plans to procure medical equipment for Level Five and Level Four hospitals to improve the level of medical care provided in public health hospitals in addition to its commitment to eliminate preventable maternal deaths through its last year’s offering of free maternal services.

Speaking during the launch of a report on the maternal mortality research study dubbed ‘Price too high to Bear” results, Health Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia said Maternal Mortality Ratio(MMR) has remained high at about 360 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2012  noting that this is still far from the MDG target of 147.

“We must ensure that no more families and communities lose the vast productive potential of its women. Kenya’s successful development needs the contribution of every hand,” said Macharia.

He stated that although facility deliveries have increased significantly since the introduction of free maternal healthcare, the country may still not achieve the MDG target of universal access to reproductive health by end of 2015.

He added that the research findings on rising mothers’ death ignites a chain of disruption, economic loss, emotional pain that often leads to the death of her baby, diminished educational and life opportunities for her surviving children, and a deepening cycle of poverty for her family.

“Kenya’s progress in reducing maternal mortality has been slow. With the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals rapidly approaching, there is need to redouble our efforts in order to achieve our targets,” noted Macharia.

The British High Commissioner to Kenya, Christian Turner lauded the government in its wide campaign of addressing maternal and child health care by abolishing user fees in primary health facilities and providing free maternal care in all public health facilities.

Turner termed the problem as critical and said,“this research shows the terrible shockwaves of loss and pain that each maternal death causes for families and communities.”

He cited that the previously launched 5-year UK maternal health care programme will address this by reducing maternal and neonatal deaths in Kenya by increasing access to quality health services. He added that through the programme, they will also train health care workers across the country in crucial lifesaving skills and support 6 counties to provide more skilled birth attendants.

“This project will also work with communities to create a better understanding of what they can expect from health services and increase their demand for good services,” stated Turner.

The High Commissioner also said the maternal and newborn health programme worth KES 10.8 billion has been designed to ensure that every more gets access to maternal health services all over the nation in an effort bridge the gap between rising maternal and newborn death rates in different parts of the country.

Turner reiterated that the programme’s benefits three main counties include; Turkana, Bungoma and Homabay which are faced with many challenges ranging from poverty, poor infrastructure, high fertility and nomadic livelihood. He also added the programme will be extended to other vulnerable counties including Nairobi, Kakamega and Garissa.

The “A Price Too High to Bear” survey was conducted from 2011 to 2013 by Family Care International (FCI), International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) and the KEMRI-CDC research in collaboration with the department of Public Health.

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