Close to 90, 000 women of reproductive age and children under 5 years are set to benefit from a Ksh 150 million project that seeks to improve access to quality maternal health services in Homabay County.
The two-year project, Uzazi Salama, is a partnership between M-PESA Foundation, PharmAccess Africa, AMREF Health Africa, Action Aid, Pathfinder international and Homabay County Government, which will strengthen the county’s health systems to support the delivery of quality reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent healthcare.
Homabay is one of 15 counties in Kenya with poor reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health indicators. These are attributed to poor access and/or low-quality health services, social-economic and cultural behaviours and unavailability of medical equipment to support optimal maternal health. Maternal deaths in the county stand at 583 per 100,000 live births and 119 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Uzazi Salama, launched at the Ndhiwa Sub-County Hospital Monday, has also been tried and tested in Samburu County since 2015.
“Every mother and newborn child deserve an equal chance of survival during the childbirth process. We believe that through Uzazi Salama, we will increase demand for hospital-based deliveries and greatly improve the quality of life for mothers and their babies as we have witnessed in Samburu County,” said Les Baille, Executive Director, M-PESA Foundation.
Speaking during the launch, Homabay Governor Cyprian Awiti acknowledged the challenges facing the County and efforts in place to mitigate them.
“As a County, it is unfortunate that we are still battling teenage pregnancies, an issue that has been flagged as a risk especially during childbirth because biologically, their bodies are not ready to welcome a child. It is through such partnerships with Safaricom and AMREF Health Africa that we aim to not only educate on safe sex and childbirth but also to reduce maternal and child deaths. I look forward to Homabay being a success story, like Samburu County,” he said.
According to Dr George Kimathi, Director, Institute of Capacity Development, Amref Health Africa, some of the notable success of Uzazi Salama in Samburu County has been a 22 per cent increase in health facility deliveries; 9 per cent increase in immunization and 6 per cent increase in the first Antenatal clinic visit.
“These can be attributed to increased community education, capacity strengthening of health workers, as well as upgrading of health facilities to provide quality Maternal and Neonatal Health services. Additionally, over 500 community health workers have been trained on safe delivery methods and over 200,000 residents benefitting from the project,” said Dr Kimathi.
Uzazi Salama is the second maternal health initiative the M-PESA Foundation is launching in Homabay County. The foundation in partnership with Gertrude’s Children Hospital will later launch the regional Daktari Smart telemedicine program, at the Suba Sub-County Hospital, which is part of a larger telemedicine initiative that targets over 32,000 children in Homabay, Samburu, Baringo and Lamu Counties.