Elgeyo Marakwet County has kicked off the construction of a Sh62 million World Bank-funded maternity facility at the Iten County Referral Hospital in a bid to boost maternal and infant health in the region.
According to area Governor Alex Tolgos, the two-storey facility will host a mother and baby centre, a theatre, an eight-bed delivery wing and an 80-bed in-patient wing.
“When the facility will be operational, it will decongest the newborn unit at Iten as well as the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital because it will reduce referrals, as well as enhance service delivery thus improve the mother and health care,” said the governor.
He said the facility will be completed in early 2022 and stressed the need for quality works even as he challenged the contractor to beat the six months’ deadline.
“We rather extend the timeframe and get value for money instead of compromising workmanship to beat timelines. I want a project that the people of Elgeyo Marakwet will be proud of in the years to come,” Mr Tolgos said.
He said the facility will aid in the county's efforts to ensure that no life is lost during childbearing.
“Since the advent of devolution, this administration has put in place innovative measures to encourage all mothers within Elgeyo Marakwet and the neighbouring counties to deliver in health facilities to ensure maternal and infant health,” he said.
Elgeyo Marakwet is listed among counties with the lowest maternal deaths in Kenya.
He revealed that the hospital, which records an average of 300 births in a month, has also seen mothers from neighbouring counties visit for delivery.
Construction of theatres and mortuaries
“At our facilities, we have a free maternity pack aimed at encouraging expectant mothers to give birth at the hospital and reduce mortality rates and discourage home deliveries. And with the coming of the mother and child facility we are optimistic it will further boost our rating as among the safest counties for mothers to deliver in,” the governor said.
The maternal mortality ratio and perinatal mortality rates in Kenya are notably high in comparison, at 362 per 100,000 live births and 29 per 1,000 live births, respectively.
The National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) report on maternal mortality in 2020 reported a national ratio of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 births as of 2018.
Infant mortality rate was 33.42 deaths per thousand live births.
It fell gradually from 100.71 deaths per thousand live births in 1971 to 33.42 deaths per thousand live births in 2020.
In the 2021/22 financial year, Elgeyo Marakwet County budgeted Sh1.7 billion for the health sector while in 2019/2020 Sh1.4b was allocated to the sector.
Additionally, the governor said the World Bank funding through the Kenya Devolution Support Program (KDSP), will also facilitate construction of a modern theatre at Kaptarakwa Health Centre in Keiyo South, Hospital Wards in Kapcherop and Chesoi Health Centres, in Marakwet West and East sub-counties to ensure locals receive timely healthcare.
In the 2021/22 budget, Kaptarakwa Sub-County Hospital (Keiyo South), Kapcherop Health Centre (Marakwet West) and Chesoi Sub- County Hospital (Marakwet East), were to each receive Sh30 million for upgrading, which includes the construction of theatres, mortuaries and purchase of equipment.