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Home / Health & Science

Where mothers work together for healthy pregnancies, children

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy JECKONIA OTIENO | Sun,Dec 09 2018 16:55:44 EAT
By JECKONIA OTIENO | Sun,Dec 09 2018 16:55:44 EAT

A group of women in Got Oyaro,Homa Bay County are revolutionizing maternal and child health through working together.

One of the main reasons for coming together is to teach each other about exclusive breastfeeding which is recommended for infants up to the age of six months.

From trying their hand in one economic activity to another, the group has maternal and child health remaining its key agenda despite the teething problems and the fact that there is usually a turnover of mothers.

The group started in 2015 after a number of pregnant women came together and started a catering group to ensure sustainability. Each member gave Sh500 but then after the first group graduated after giving birth, the catering venture as the next group was not quite keen on the idea.

The group then started table banking but this too died after members defaulted. Josephine Adhiambo, a community health volunteer attached to Got Oyaro Health says the group then came with an idea called Hera Jikoni which involves visiting the new mothers and taking to them household stuff as a means of bonding and keeping the group together.

“We had a dream that if these women would stand then it would join others to join but this was not to be as it seems these women only joined during the period of pregnancy but left after giving birth,” says Adhiambo.

Since its inception, a total of 195 mothers have gone through the programme. The number of women that join any given year fluctuates with the number of births.

The decision to make women join together in a support group came with the evidence that a number of children were turning out malnourished mainly due to poor feeding by their mothers as well lack of enough resources to feed the children.

Adhiambo says, “We started with malnourished children and encouraged women to feed children properly.”

She adds that exclusive breastfeeding is a big challenge to mothers due to lack of food or for women who have to go to work. But the group has taught mothers about expressing milk for the children.

But it was not all gloom as the mothers have been learning from each other. Adhiambo says that both the HIV positive and negative mothers join the support group and n this way they get to learn from each other.

In the face of the challenges of keeping the group, a requirement was made that each sets up a kitchen garden. The programme is supported by humanitarian organization World Vision.

Adhiambo says that looking at the data, women who are HIV positive have been more disciplined with exclusive breastfeeding compared to their HIV negative counterparts.

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