Address causes of infant deaths at KNH

As a prelude to fully implementing Universal Health Coverage (UHC), free maternity services were rolled out in 2013.

The rationale for this concept was the reduction of maternal and child deaths observed to have been on an upward trajectory.

However, it has been a bag of mixed fortunes for a service whose benefits remain a mirage to a larger section of Kenyan women.

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A 2018 report by the Ministry of Health; Saving Mothers’ Lives: Confidential Inquiry into Maternal Deaths in Kenya revealed that nine out of ten maternal deaths in Kenya occur in public health facilities, in particular, county referral hospitals.

However, when a referral hospital of the stature of Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) loses 80 babies in a week, as a recent report by consultants at University of Nairobi’s School of Medicine shows, there is every reason to get alarmed.

It is absurd that KNH should lack facilities for maternal care; a situation replicated across the country despite Government claims it is on course to achieve UHC. Lately, KNH has been sucked in leadership misadventures that detract it from offering competent services.

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Cases of rape, surgery mix-up, and now the alarming death of babies at KNH do little to inspire confidence.

At the centre of this mess is the health ministry that has failed to give direction.

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If KNH is overstretched, it is because other medical facilities are not endowed in terms of equipment, staffing and expertise to handle cases. This is an issue the health ministry must address.

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Universal Health CoverageKenyatta National HospitalKNHUniversity of Nairobi’s School of Medicine