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Margret Kenyatta Mother baby unit to boost maternal health in Nakuru and environs

The new state-of-the-art mother baby wing at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital. [Caroline Chebet, Standard]

A new 250-bed maternity wing at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital will be named after First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who is expected to open it tomorrow.

The Margaret Kenyatta Mother Baby Wing, which cost Sh450 million, is said to be the biggest of its kind in the country after Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital.

According to Nakuru’s medical superintendent, Joseph Mburu, the wing is a state-of-the-art facility.

It has four modern theatres as well as antenatal and postnatal clinics.

Children born with complications will get specialised care at the neonatal intensive care unit and isolation wards within the wing.

“Premature babies have also been factored in. The facility has a kangaroo baby unit where mothers will be required to provide warmth to newborns,” said Dr Mburu.

The facility will also offer a child clinic, immunisation, comprehensive maternity care and family planning services.

Maternal health specialists will be on hand to swiftly provide services.

Governor Lee Kinyanjui said maternal deaths were a major challenge for the county and that the new facility would provide easily accessible health services for women and babies in the county and beyond.

“The new facility will meet the needs for safer deliveries and build up on achievements. With the opening of this new facility, we shall make faster progress towards achieving the ultimate goal of keeping mothers and babies alive and eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV,” said the governor.

Maternal deaths

According to statistics from the department of reproductive health in Nakuru, there were 49 maternal deaths in 2016, increasing to 66 by September this year.

Neonatal deaths from January to September this year stand at 454 while the number of still births attributed to difficulties in labour, bleeding and hypertension is 1,346.

Health officials attributed baby deaths to difficulties in breathing, premature birth and low birth weight.

“Cases of complications reported at pregnancy and at birth will now be handled by health workers at the mother unit, and we expect deaths will reduce,” said Mburu.

Pregnant women usually seek services at the Nakuru Level Five hospital, which has a bed capacity of 17 and records an average of 30 deliveries every day.

At least eight mothers undergo caesarean sections.

The hospital records between 900 and 1,000 births a month.

With the new facility, this number is expected to increase to at least 1,500 in the next three months.

For smooth operation, the facility will require about 130 midwives. Presently, there are 53 midwives at the Nakuru hospital.

Whereas various projects constructed in the country take years to be completed, construction of the state of art unit has adhered to timelines.

According to the Public Works ministry, the ground-breaking ceremony was held in April 2017 and the construction was completed in 81 weeks.

Close supervision

“Close supervision in construction of the facility has been smooth and we are happy it has been completed on time,” said Martin Njoroge Kaaru, an official from the public works department.

The facility is expected to serve Nakuru and neighboring counties including Bomet, Baringo Narok, Kericho, Samburu, Laikipia and Nyandarua.

Nakuru is high on the list of counties struggling with birth-related deaths.

According to the United Nations Population Fund’s Kenya statistics of 2014, Mandera County had the highest number of maternal deaths at 2,136, followed by Wajir (581), Nairobi (533), Nakuru (444) and Kakamega 364.

At least seven per cent of women who died of birth complications in the country in 2014 were from Nakuru.