19 June 2017

Kenya: Maternal and Baby Health, Scout for the Best Care Available

Nairobi — Reduction of maternal mortality has long been a global health priority and is a target in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework.

There is growing consensus worldwide that ending preventable maternal deaths can be achieved by ensuring that every woman has access to quality health care.

Global and national targets beyond 2015 will be important for tracking progress in reducing maternal deaths and ensuring that maternal health continues to be a global development priority.

Each year more than 200,000 women and 1 million newborn babies die from maternal health and newborn complications in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The simple fact is that most of these deaths can be prevented by easy, available and cost effective solutions, as long as pregnant women and new mothers with infants get the right health care at the right time.

Private and public hospitals providing maternity care have encouraged and embraced hospital based package models that cater for pregnant women during pregnancy, child birth, postnatal depression and newborn care.

With the advent of integrated free maternity care services and private healthcare hospital packages, expectant mothers and couples face the conundrum of selecting their choice pregnancy care facility and delivery packages. Unfortunately, sometimes, insurance providers/financiers make the choice for couples leaving them with limited options.

"With a rise in the variable mother-baby packages, it is prudent for couples or single mothers expecting a baby to understand the bare minimum care expected during their pregnancy and childbirth experience and to have their expectations met," says Obstetrician Gynaecologist, Dr Ogutu Onsase of Nairobi Hospital.

Dr Onsase say the focus should not be on the societal paradigm of an ideal financial package or hospital status, but rather on the accessibility to skilled and quality care providing a wholesome experience. "Individualized care and support is essential to bring out the best and memorable experience."

Pregnancy, childbirth and childcare are all expected social milestones that are both enjoyable and challenging periods. Good care and support is essential to bring out the best of these memorable experiences.

Most societies and cultures have laid down very good communal care and support systems and structures to enhance the pregnancy experience.

"Modern medicine aims to replicate the same through specialized group/individual care teams comprising of nurses, midwives, doctors, obstetrician gynaecologist and paediatric specialists integrating into the existing family support structures," explains Dr Ogutu.

With the advances achieved in medical care and safe medical practices, it is now possible to timely manage complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

Dr Ogutu outlines what a good care package care should offer:

Ease of Access

Skilled and quality care at all times does not always translate to expensive care. Couples should expect a dedicated qualified care provider team of nurses, midwives and a doctor.

Individualized Care

Couples should be allowed to link up and select care providers of their choice which translates to individualized care. Most packages are however designed on the premise of same-care for all and may not cater for individualized needs.

Informed Care

Informed care and clear communication from an experienced accessible team translates to reduced child and maternal mortality. It fosters timely identification and management of complications that may arise, while fears, anxiety and depression are allayed.

The dignity of the pregnant woman should be preserved by the caring team. Risks and benefits of all options of care based on current evidence and experience should be communicated and independence and autonomy of the right to make informed decision upheld.

Integrated Care Models

Package models should have accessible specialists which deals with the worry of looking for a specialist and integrating all aspects of care from lab testing, medications, imaging and sub-specialty referrals. This relieves the stress of multiple care points and time wastage.

Dr. Ogutu says getting everything done in one location, the 'shopping mall' experience of healthcare, provides a unique experience especially for high risk or complicated pregnancies adding that ccess to all specialties should be at an affordable cost to allow best treatment plans and continued access of care.


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