The Star (Nairobi)

28 January 2013

Kenya: Sh21 Billion Project for Western

WESTERN province is to benefit from a Sh21 billion programme to reduce maternal deaths and increase antenatal care.

The programme, Saving Lives at Birth was launched in Vihiga County seeks to increase the number of poor pregnant mothers who deliver in health facilities.

The programmed is funded by the Saving Lives at Birth Consortium which comprises Grand Challenges of Canada, USAid, World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation and the government of Kenya.

The two-year programme is a partnership between Changamka Micro health, the Ministries of Public Health and Sanitation and Medical Services.

Launching the programme, Changamka Chief Executive Samuel Agutu said the programme seeks to improve access to health services among the poor pregnant mothers.

The programme will also increase the rates of skilled assistance at birth in Vihiga district. He said the uptake of live-saving maternal health services was low in the district.

"Research show that lack of adequate care is a leading cause of maternal mortality in the developing world and that mothers who attend their required antenatal visits and deliver in hospitals stands a greater chance of survival," said Agutu.

Agutu said the programmes will address the financial constraints encountered by poor mothers in seeking access to health services by subsidizing the cost of maternal care services before, during and after delivery.

He said the programme will also finance the cost of transport for poor expectant mothers and providing information to those in need of it to ensure more pregnant mothers deliver in hospitals.

He said that key barriers to hospital deliveries have been found to be the cost of care, transport and lack of information.

Under the programme, Changamka will administer an innovative system of maternal health voucher subsidies known as M-kadi that will be distributed electronically to the woman mobile phones to cater for their maternal healthcare needs.

Agutu said that transportation subsidies will be delivered through M-Pesa to ensure eligible women get to health facilities for deliveries. The programme also includes an informational SMS messaging campaign aimed at educating women on the benefits of hospital based deliveries.

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