Hundreds of women in the interior villages that border Nakuru and Baringo counties have a reason to smile after a new modern maternity hospital was opened on Wednesday in Sarambei village in Rongai Sub-County.
The fully equipped twelve-bed Dandelion Maternity Unit will see expectant women across the rural border get proper services during birth.
The facility was officially opened by the Nakuru County Health CEC Zakayo Kariuki Gichuki.
It aims to control the high numbers of maternal and infant mortalities recorded at the border.
Cases of women giving birth at home with the help of untrained midwives have in the past been recorded, with many contracting serious infections, some which have led to the spread of HIV/Aids.
However, Dr Gichuki said the independent and modern maternity hospital in the area is one of the greatest milestones in the county.
The health CEC said up to 56 percent of mothers in the country deliver at home especially in the rural areas.
"It is heart breaking knowing that hundreds of mothers die as a result of complications in the hands of the traditional birth attendants. Nakuru County, for example, recorded 58 percent maternal and infant deaths in the recent years and Rongai alone had 73 percent of the mothers who delivered at home," stated Dr Gichuki, adding that the worrying figures have always given the county administration sleepless nights.
A case study was conducted to find out the factors contributing to home maternal deliveries in Rongai.
The research findings attributed (lack of) knowledge, attitudes and practices during delivery to home deliveries.
"We had to act fast enough and think of a sober way of controlling the worrying numbers knowing that the major mortality rates in the villages were associated to lack of knowledge on safe delivery and negative attitude linked to most of the wrong information spread about the quality of services in government hospitals," Dr Gichuki said.
He added that bad practices are highly influencing home deliveries.
The villages set to benefit from the maternity facility include Sarambei, Lomolo, Banita Kapsitet and Mogotio in Baringo.
The new hospital has been equipped with modern delivery beds, oxygen concentrator, sanction machine, patient monitors and vital sign monitors, cancer screening machines and immunization wards.
The hospital was funded by Dandelion Africa, a non-governmental organisation in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
Ms Wendo Sahar Aszed, the executive director of Dandelion Africa said there is a misguided belief among women in both rural and urban slums that childbirth is a normal process which does not need medical attention.
"Such an attitude, together with poverty, illiteracy and ignorance regarding complication of delivery is responsible for majority of women delivering at home," she said.
Ms Aszed encouraged young mothers to take advantage of the facility to deliver there and also get other services like family planning.
She said factors like family traditions, lack of time, inaccessibility of hospitals, social-economic issues and physical factors like the geography of the area, politics, poor services and weak health systems have largely contributed to home deliveries.