Coast counties in drive to improve maternal health

Mombasa County Head of Preventive and Promotive Health, Dr Salma Swaleh, speaks on August 7, 2019 during a press briefing at Royal Court after a Safaricom Foundation workshop on maternal, newborn and child health. She said maternal deaths have greatly reduced in the Coast region. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The forum brought together health officials from the six coastal counties.
  • It was organised by the Safaricom Foundation.
  • For areas that have rough terrains, the county government plans to procure four-wheel drive ambulances.

Maternal mortality rate in the Coast region has declined by 50 percent since 2014.

Currently, the world maternal mortality rate stands at 362 per 100,000 live births.

According to Health chief executives (CECs) from Coast counties, the decline is due to improvements made in the health facilities that have ensured they have enough staff and equipment to give effective services to mothers and babies.


Speaking during a workshop on maternal new-born and child health in Mombasa, the CECs said they are working on improving maternal health facilities and creating awareness at the grassroots on the importance of getting specialised care to ensure that they get 70 percent live births by 2030.

The forum, which was organised by the Safaricom Foundation, brought together health officials from the six coastal counties under the Jumuiya ya Kaunti za Pwani economic bloc.

Also in attendance were officials from Amref and Safaricom Foundation.


Among the steps taken by the Coast counties include establishment of more centres to cater for expectant women and bridge the distance gap and training of more local health staff.

Mombasa County’s Head of Preventive and Promotive Health Salma Swaleh said there is congestions at the Coast Provincial General Hospital (CPGH), which is making it difficult to give quality services to women.

But Dr Swaleh said they have since decentralised services by equipping sub-county hospitals to offer maternity services.

“In our bid to offer quality services we started offering maternity health services in sub-county hospitals. We have Mrima in Likoni, Port Reitz, Mlaleo among others that offer services to people within these areas. This has reduced the distance that a mother from Likoni was supposed to take to CPGH,” Dr Swaleh said.


For areas that have rough terrains like Mwakirunge in Kisauni, the county government plans to procure four-wheel drive ambulances for emergencies.

“We thank God our efforts are working because at the moment we stand at 197 deaths per 100,000 live births which is lower compared to the world average,” she said.

Lamu Health CEC Ann Gathoni explained that in the past, the county was among the top six in Kenya that were leading in maternal mortality but the numbers have now gone down tremendously.

“We were at 600 deaths per 100,000 lives but the number has dropped by about 50 percent; now we are at 200,” she Said Ms Gathoni.


This she said is because of the additional of neo-natal unit at Faza and the maternal health shelter at Witu which have seen women easily access maternity health services.

She added that Lamu County has also trained community health workers who reach out to the expectant women at the grassroots.

Taita Taveta Health CEC explained that the Linda Mama initiative has really helped women to seek specialised services on time, which in turn has seen a decrease in the mortality rates.

Tana River County Health CEC Mwanajuma Heribae said that the challenges they faced earlier were lack of enough staff and few health centres but they have since dealt with the challenges.


“The county set aside Sh90 million to improve health services by recruiting 96 medical staff to curb shortage,” said Ms Hiribae, adding that in the three hospitals that they have, each has a surgical centre to handle women who need C-Section.

Safaricom Foundation’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Sanda Ojiambo said they are advocating for financing to ensure access to maternal, neonatal and child health services, ensuring communities have access to healthcare when they need it and the use of technology to improve efficiency for results.

Under the Safaricom maternal and child health programme, Sh132 million has been set aside to promote maternal, new-born and child health services around the country for three years.