Kenya's free maternal care plan gets Sh5.4b boost

Judy Moraa Nyangori receiving Linda Mama Boresha jamii card during the launch of the programme from the Health cabinet secretary Cleopa Mailu at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre PHOTO: STANDARD.

The Government has launched an expanded free maternal care programme at a cost of Sh5.4 billion.

The programme seeks to further reduce maternal morbidity and mortality rates in the country.

The expanded programme dubbed "Linda Mama, Boresha Jamii" extends it services beyond normal delivery to include ante-natal care, delivery through caesarean section and post-natal care free of charge.

New-borns will also have access to free health services for a year.

President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that despite progress in child and maternal mortality since the inception of the free maternal care programme in 2013, the numbers currently recorded were still wanting.

"Despite the progress we have made, maternal mortality rate is still unacceptably too high. We still have a lot of work to protect the women," said President Kenyatta in his speech read by Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu yesterday during the launch at Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

He added: "These are not just numbers; they are lives of mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and children at stake. Hence no women should die bringing forth life."

Since the inception of the programme in 2013, the numbers of deliveries in public health facilities has risen from 460,000 births to one million in 2015.

It has also aided in averting 2,000 maternal mortalities and 30,000 child deaths over the same period.

The Government has for the last three years used Sh9 billion in the initiative, with Sh5.4 allocated in the coming financial year.

Dr Mailu said the new initiative aims to achieve quality maternal and child health services and contribute to the country's progress towards universal health coverage.

It will be realised in two phases running until June 2017. Beneficiaries under the first phase will access maternity services in 5,073 facilities across the country with the second phase commencing in February 2017 providing full benefits of the health services under the scheme with 6,566 health facilities.

"Linda Mama, Boresha Jamii" to be implemented by the National Health Insurance Fund has brought on board 700 faith-based health facilities. The government is also in talks with 2,000 private facilities.