By LYDIAH NYAWIRA and WINNIE LELEI
Since the introduction of free maternity care on June 1, the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital is yet to experience a significant rise in the number of women seeking the services.
Deputy medical superintendent Julius Macharia, says the facility has been coping as women are now seeking medical care without fear of bills.
“In the past women were afraid to come to the facility but now they freely access the maternal care at the hospital and it is good for the health of the baby and the mother,” he said.
He said currently they are having 10-15 deliveries per day, which is not different from their earlier record when mothers paid maternity fees.
The facility had a reputation of women sharing beds after delivery but that is now a thing of the past.
“Mothers that would have had to stay in the wards after delivery because of the fees can now go home after they are discharged,” Dr Macharia said.
He says while they have no statistical indicators of the economic status of the women accessing free maternal health care the standards and quality of the services are still above board.
“All women regardless of their financial background can come to the hospital and access the free services,” he added.
Ms Ann Migwi, a volunteer community health worker says the free maternal health care has made her work easier and saved the lives of many women who would have delivered at home due to financial constraints.
“We often had to coerce the women in the informal settlements such as Majengo, Kiawara and Ngangarithii to go to hospital, now they go willingly,” Migwi says.
Meanwhile, the number of women seeking free maternity services at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) has doubled.
According to the hospital’s Director, John Kibosia: “Many women have had normal delivery while others through Caesarian section free of charge.”
Dr Kibosia says: “We have already started training more nurses and building capacity with other local health to ease the pressure at the referral hospital”.
The hospital has a bed capacity of 112 for mothers and babies and the Director said they would prefer to handle only complicated cases. “We want to encourage referral of only complicated cases to MTRH since this is the sole mandate of this health facility,” Kibosia said.
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The hospital, however, faces a great challenge because cases of complicated deliveries may hinder admission of women seeking maternity services.
“Pregnancies with complications cases take four to five hours before they are discharged while less complicated ones take just about an hour,” said Emily Birech, Head of Reproductive division at MTRH.
“Mothers in Kenya are relieved. We are thankful to the government for intervening for mothers who cannot afford to pay maternity fees in this country,” said Ms Anita Jepkemboi, a beneficiary.