Which way for mothers after five years of free maternal care
1 months ago, 16 Apr 16:20
The latest reported case of maternal death was in Siaya. Valentine Sunday was scheduled for delivery at the Siaya County Referral Hospital on March 28 and delivered a baby girl through caesarean section; she did not make it alive out of the theatre. The second-time mother had worked at the same facility for three years and trusted that her colleagues would offer the best service – after all maternity care is free in all public hospitals in Kenya. Sunday’s husband, Leonard Odongo accuses the hospital of not being open as to what exactly led to his wife’s death. “I left the hospital at 8pm before she was taken to theatre.... when I went back to check on her after receiving a call, I found her bed empty. I went to the theatre and found her lifeless body,” said Odongo. While it is reported that the hospital’s medical superintendent Geoffrey Mwai said that the hospital had set up a team to probe the death, it must not be lost that maternal deaths are still occurring even with free maternity care. Sunday’s death could not be an isolated event as mothers still continue to lose their lives while delivering. Barely three months ago, Otieno Juma lost his wife who was two months’ pregnant when she lost a pregnancy at the Nyangoma Kogello Dispensary where she had been admitted and treated for malaria and cholera. “We took her to the facility where she stayed for three days being treated for malaria and cholera but on the day she was to be discharged, the pregnancy terminated and less than 12 hours later she was gone,” says recounts Juma at his home not far away from the dispensary. Five years have elapsed since the inception of the much-touted free maternity care, which had one of its aims to reduce maternal and child deaths. At the beginning, systemic challenges like lack of supplies, inadequate staffing and lack of staff housing came as bottlenecks. And some of these challenges are aptly captured in the recent report by the Ministry of Health dubbed Saving Mothers’ Lives: Confidential Inquiry into Maternal Deaths in Kenya released in late February this year showing that nine out of ten maternal deaths recorded occur in public health facilities with most of them being in county referral hospitals. Dr Elizabeth Ogonji, the reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health coordinator for Siaya County explains that one of the biggest challenges contributing to death of pregnant women is late referral. “Delays at the community level; delays between dispensary and county referral hospitals and lack of a blood bank are some of the issues that are still affecting maternal care in Siaya – in case of an emergency we have to get blood from Busia or Kisumu,” says Ogonji. With reimbursement from the national government to cover the deliveries, Ogonji states that free maternity care improved deliveries under skilled care in Siaya from 59 per cent to 66 per cent in five years. Nationally, the government ...
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