Kenya's free maternity care program highly feted in Switzerland

Initiative recognized for reducing maternal mortality rate.

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Kenya's free maternity initiative received high recognition at the East, Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA-HC) meeting held at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Geneva on Saturday. Two East African countries Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania were honored on Respectful Maternity Care.

During the meeting the Director of Medical Services, Dr. Jackson Kioko noted that because of the maternity care initiative Kenya has witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of mothers delivering in public health facilities hence reducing the maternal mortality rate.

"With free maternity services, we have seen the number of women delivering in our facilities rise from 600, 000 in 2013 to 1.2 million in 2015. The Maternal Mortality Ratio has decreased from 488 to 362 per 100, 000. In addition, 58% of women have access to contraceptives," said Dr. Kioko.

Kenya implemented the free maternity program in 2013 after conducting a research in 2011 - 2014 to measure the prevalence of disrespect and abuse experienced during childbirth in public health facilities.

Based on the findings the Government put in place the several measures to ensure respectful maternity care.

This includes improved facility infrastructure and equipment, supply chain management, supervision and management of staff and resources and increased social support for health workers including introduction of maternity open days for the community and use of client service charter.

The Government had also strengthened Community education and sensitization on client rights and expectations of facility care via community health workers/groups.

These will improve the health of all members of the community and contribute to reaching SDG targets of reducing global burden of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity as the country moves towards ending preventable maternal deaths by 2030, he added.

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