Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis with Safaricom Foundation Trustee Rita Okuthe at Barwessa Health Centre at the weekend. [Mercy Kahenda, Standard]

The Safaricom Foundation has allocated Sh82 million to help fight maternal and infant mortality in Baringo County. 

Trustee Safaricom Foundation Rita Okuthe said the money will be used to equip maternity wings in remote parts of the county to enable expectant women access delivery and post-natal services.

Speaking during the launch of the maternal health programme at the weekend, a partnership with Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and the county government, Ms Okuthe said the focus in reducing maternal and infant mortality will be held across the county.

At least 15,000 women in Sub-counties of Mogotio, Koibatek, Marigat, Baringo Central, Baringo North and Tiaty will benefit.

“Maternal, neonatal and child healthcare programme is aimed at reducing delay in seeking maternal health services and the delay of women receiving care, delays that have in the past resulted into anticipated deaths of mothers and new-borns,” said Okuthe.

Okuthe said the foundation will work with the county government to build and equip at least three maternity wings as well as provide ambulances to enable pregnant women in remote areas access health care facilities.

In addition, solar panels will be set up in various health centres to guarantee provision of quality maternal care during daytime and at night.

Apart from infrastructure support, pregnant women will be encouraged to deliver in health facilities with innovative maternity services.

Gideon, who was represented by Baringo Woman Representative Gladwell Cheruiyot, said more joint efforts are needed to meet the health needs of women and children.

He said it was unacceptable that Baringo County's maternal mortality rate is higher than the whole country.

"Statistics of maternal mortality shows that in our county, 488 deaths occur per 100,000 live births, which is higher than the whole country’s 374 deaths per 100,000 live births. This is not only shocking but unacceptable," he said.

Gideon said he will continue working with like-minded partners to ensure that the trend is reversed.

"Let us all endeavour to creatively find workable solutions that can improve access to cost effective quality health care for our mothers and children, remembering that their health is our wealth. It is our duty not only to ensure survival but to enable them to thrive," he said.

He called on the county government to take seriously matters of health following slow response to malaria outbreak in the county and Hepatitis B, which was rampant in some parts of the county.

Okuthe added that awareness creation on maternal health practices will form part of the comprehensive program with over 500 community health volunteers being facilitated to reach out to women.

"Community health volunteers will also be involved in provision of maternal healthcare, where they link up expectant women to respective facilities and encourage them to take newborns for vaccination," she said.

Safaricom Foundation’s maternal health programme was launched last year and so far, counties in the Coast and Rift Valley regions have benefited from it.

Under the programme, the foundation set aside Sh132 million to promote maternal, newborn and child health services around the country.