Kakamega signs Sh223m deal to reduce maternal mortality cases

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa at the Lumakanda maternity ward in Lugari Sub-county on October 16, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard 

The county has entered into a partnership to enhance the delivery wards for expectant mothers as part of the Tutunze Kakamega Service Delivery Redesign strategy.

Governor Fernandes Barasa, who commissioned the facility on Monday, said the hospital would help reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Kakamega.

“The strategy simply aims to provide medical attention to mothers as soon as possible so they don’t go through difficult times,” Barasa said.

Lugari sub-county is the second out of the three sub-counties in Kakamega, where the programme was launched.

“Through the partnership, the county received Sh223 million for phase one, 40 per cent of which has come to Lugari sub-county. The objective of this initiative is to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 in every 100,000 live births,” said Barasa.

The initiative, which has incorporated support from players in the health sector, such as Jacaranda Health, has resulted in improved maternity wards at several hospitals in the county, with the latest being Lumakanda Level IV Hospital in Lugari constituency.

The hospital’s maternity wing now boasts an increased bed capacity by 50 per cent and improved patient privacy by 80 per cent, tailored to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality while encouraging mothers to give birth in hospitals.

Delivery statistics from Kakamega County show only 37 per cent of women give birth in a health facility equipped to handle maternal emergencies, as 63 per cent of women prefer giving birth at home.

The statistics indicate that deliveries are sparsely distributed, with 85 per cent of facilities conducting fewer than 30 deliveries in a month. However, 99 per cent of women living in Kakamega reside within an hour of advanced level four and level five facilities. 

The governor said 30-45 per cent of mothers who go to health facilities for delivery do not receive effective services.

“We understand that this situation may result in tragic consequences, including death, and our focus, along with that of our partners, is to radically redesign how we offer better health services,” he said.

Jacaranda Health deputy country director Dr Job Makoyo said they are collaborating with selected counties to expand and equip maternity and newborn units to create spaces that promote the provision of quality care.

“We are reducing delays in the receipt of care by improving urgent and emergency referral systems through collaboration with Rescue.Co, a reputable emergency transport provider,” he said.

Makoyo said their goal was to ensure all women were supported by an adequate number of skilled health providers.

“To achieve this, we are conducting hospital-based skills training on emergency and obstetric care and enhancing health financing arrangements for quality healthcare services. The implementation of the Kakamega health fund is a significant milestone,” said Makoyo.

Health county executive Benard Wesonga urged women in the constituency and the county to utilise the available facilities during childbirth to reduce mortality rates.

“We are doing all it takes to ensure our facilities are expanded. We will replace all contractors who have dumped materials on the site and are reluctant to finish the construction of our health facilities,” said Wesonga.

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