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Foundation gives Sh25m for new mothers

By Standard Correspondent | November 6th 2020
By Standard Correspondent | November 6th 2020
Inside the maternity unit at Maralal Hospital. [Mercy Kahenda, Standard]

At least 6,000 mothers from across the country are expected to benefit from a Sh 25.2million maternal, newborn and child health project funded by the M-PESA Foundation.

The initiative which is part of Safaricom’s 20th anniversary celebrations will see women in 26 health facilities across the country receive Mother and Baby packs.  Each pack will contain crucial items such as sanitary towels, shawls, diapers, pyjamas, soap and a basin. The pack will also contain a pictorial guide on breastfeeding and best infant care practices.

“We believe that every mother and newborn child deserve an equal chance of survival during the childbirth process. From our experience, we have seen that the Mother and Baby packs work in incentivizing women to give birth in health facilities. This simple gesture is crucial in reducing preventable maternal deaths. We believe that through this initiative, we will increase demand for hospital- based deliveries and greatly improve the quality of life for disadvantaged mothers and their babies,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.

According to government statistics, Kenya loses at least 362 women for every 100,000 live births. The introduction of free maternity service has seen delivery under skilled care increase from 44 % to 62% according to government estimates. However, these gains are likely to be rolled back with the current COVID-19 crisis.

“Documented evidence shows that since May, only a paltry three out of 10 women give birth in hospitals, pointing to a worrying trend that could morph into a crisis,” said Mr. Ndegwa.

The M-PESA Foundation has invested in two large -scale maternal health projects over the last 10 years.  Uzazi Salama and LEAP aim to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in North Eastern, Nyanza and Western regions.

Uzazi Salama is a partnership with AMREF Health Africa, PharmAccess group and the Samburu County government who are the implementing partners. It involves improving infrastructure, capacity building of health workers, enhancing community-based information and education, and health care financing. Through the partnership over 50 health facilities in Samburu have been renovated serving more than 250,000 people in the county

LEAP formerly known as the Health Enablement and Learning Platform aims to train, up-skill and develop the capacity of Community Health Volunteers and their supervisors, a critical resource in delivering community health services across Kenya. Over 3,000 community health workers have been registered reaching over 360,000 people annually.

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