Lamu County has recorded a steady increase in hospital deliveries in the last five years.
According to statistics from the Lamu County Health department, the number of women seeking hospital deliveries has risen from about 70 percent in 2018 to 90 percent in 2022.
The records also indicate that there is a significant reduction in maternal mortality rate in the county by almost half within the five-year period.
There was also a four percent increase in child immunizations reducing infant mortality.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2014, Lamu was listed among 15 counties that accounted for over 60 percent of maternal, newborn, and child deaths in Kenya.
Speaking during a health forum, Medical Services Chief Officer Victor Tole attributed various interventions by the devolved government in partnership with various organizations to the improvement.In 2018, Lamu partnered with Safaricom Foundation and PharmAccess and implemented the maternal health project.
The partnership saw the equipping of Mpeketoni, Faza, King Fahad and Witu hospitals.
A boat ambulance was also purchased and has been serving over 150, 000 people from far-flung islands across the Lamu archipelago.
According to Mr Tole, the project which cost over Sh42 million has currently benefited over 33,000 women in Lamu.
He noted that the introduced maternal, neo-natal, and child health program reduced the delay in access to care by linking up over 11,900 women in hard-to-reach areas, including those in terror-prone Boni forest villages of Basuba, Milimani, Bar’goni, Mangai, Mararani, Kiangwe, Pandanguo, Kiunga, Ishakani, and parts of Witu, Mpeketoni and Hindi.
Women in remote Islands such as Faza, Kizingitini, Pate, Mkokoni, Ndau, Kiwayu among others, where the only mode of transport is by sea which is costly, were also linked through the program and enabled to access hospital services.
“There has also been an improvement with over 2,400 successful referrals and over 12,000 skilled deliveries reducing the risk of maternal and infant mortality,” said Mr Tole.
Safaricom Foundation Chairperson Joe Ogutu said they got into the program with the objective to reduce maternal and infant mortality, provide access to maternal health, improve the state of referrals and equip community health workers with skills.
He said so far, close to 500 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in the county were trained and equipped with smartphones to monitor households.
Additionally, 161 health workers were employed, hence, improving the general health service delivery in the county.
“Through this partnership with the county government of Lamu, we have managed to bridge major gaps that were limiting access to maternal healthcare,” said Mr Ogutu.