More is needed on mother and newborn health
With a global average of 550 deaths of mothers per 100,000 live births, it is 414 in Kenya, indicating positive measures put in place to make motherhood safer.
However, anecdotal evidence about the cause of death of many women during childbirth implies that if hospitals improved the quality of maternal care, the rate could be reduced further.
For instance, there are far too many cases of negligence or insufficient supply of critical healthcare facilities, such as blood for transfusion in emergencies, that expose mothers to death risk.
These challenges can be addressed by improving supervision and accountability in hospitals and ensuring critical supplies for delivery are available and affordable.
Knowledge about how to make mothers safe from risk during delivery is widely available but there are still gaps in its dissemination and application.
It would be edifying to see more counties invest in primary healthcare so that they can monitor pregnant women, and teach them about safe motherhood. They can also invest in mobile clinics or other forms of easily available care to further bring down maternal death statistics.
Every mother who dies during childbirth is not just a statistic; she is the mother of other children, a lover, a caregiver, a community leader or a breadwinner. As such, society should invest more in making giving birth safe, not just for the sake of the mother and her newborn but also for the well-being of the larger community.
For the rural areas, insufficient housing, lack of support and limited access to a health facility are critical access gaps. Access to maternal care can be improved by opening health facilities in underserved communities and improving rural transport infrastructure.
Removing financial and physical barriers to perinatal care is a first step towards safe birth for all parents. But it should be paired with initiatives that support high-quality care in delivery facilities.
Ms Afandi is a journalism and communication student at Rongo University. [email protected]