Despite the best efforts from different sectors, statistics for maternal and infant mortality are still too high. As per the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey and UNICEF, we’re losing at least 375 in every 100,000 women who give birth. We’re also losing 31 infants every day for every 1,000 born.
One of the foundations that is at the forefront of supporting maternal health programs throughout the country is Safaricom Foundation, who have recently launched a maternal, neonatal and child healthcare program in Baringo County. At least 15,000 women in the 7 sub-counties Mogotio, Koibatek, Marigat, Baringo Central, Baringo North, Tiaty East and East Pokot will benefit from the programme.
One of the biggest contributors to maternal and infant mortality is delays in seeking health services and this is one area that will be addressed. The foundation which has put in an investment of Kshs.82 Million aims to work closely with the community as well as the County Government of Baringo to reach and impact at least 15,000 women from various sub-counties.
Safaricom Foundation will work with the County Government of Baringo to build and equip at least 3 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 enable them operate at night.
Apart from infrastructure support, pregnant women will be encouraged to deliver in health facilities with innovative maternity services which are in agreement with the traditions of the community. One other major challenge that faces maternal and infant health is lack of awareness on good practices and for that, will also form part of the comprehensive program with over 500 community health volunteers being facilitated to reach out to women.
Since launch of Safaricom Foundation’s maternal health program last year with a budget of Kshs.132 Million, counties in the Coast and Rift Valley regions have benefited.
In Lamu for example, a maternal shelter in Witu and a newborn unit in Faza Island have since been built and equipped, and are service 2,000 people. The newborn and maternity unit at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital has also been renovated and equipped.
Meanwhile in Uasin Gishu, the newborn unit at Moi Teaching and Referral hospital and the maternity wing at Moiben Sub-Countyhospital received new equipment from the Foundation to improve service delivery.