Maternal deaths fall due to free services

Cases of maternal deaths in the country have reduced since the introduction of the free maternity service.

According to head of Preventive and Promotive Health Services in the Ministry of Health Jackson Kioko, efforts are on to lower figures further.

He said that the country’s maternal mortality stood at 488 deaths for every 100,000 lives births annually, a figure he termed as still high.

Kioko added that the numbers had dropped significantly from over 500 per 100,000 live births due to concerted efforts between the government and stakeholders.

“The introduction of free maternity services by the Government has played a big part in reducing the number of deaths,” he said.

The doctor said since the introduction of the free maternity services the number of women giving birth in hospitals has rose to 70 per cent, up from 44 per cent.
“We still have some mothers giving births at home and many have died either due to massive bleeding or infection,” Dr Kioko said.

Kioko was addressing the press in Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha at the end of a workshop called to address gains and challenges in maternal health.

This came as the World Bank (WB) committed Sh20 billion towards addressing reproduction and maternal health andalso pledged an extra Sh14 billion next year towards reforms in the health sector.

According to WB programme leader Gandham Ramana, the funds would be used to improve health services and support ongoing reforms in Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa).

Ramana was however said Kenya compared to other East African countries had relaxed in its fight against maternal deaths.

We commend the government for free maternity service but there is still a challenge in addressing reproductive health and maternal deaths,” he said.

On his part, UNICEF Senior Executive Manager Pascal Bijleveld said, “Globally we are yet to achieve the Millennium Development Goal four and five thus the need for more resources.”