Women opt for traditional births citing insults in hospitals

Dean, School of Nursing, Moi University Dr Dinah Chelagat (left) at one of the facilities where nurses and midwives are to be trained under the Respectful Maternity Care model.

Photo credit: Stanley Kimuge | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Low number of women delivering in health facilities has been attributed to mistreatment of expectant mothers by nurses and midwives.
  • Moi University in collaboration with Uasin-Gishu County and Nepad have embarked on training midwives and nurses from various health facilities to change this tide.
  • Dr Dinah Chelagat, said women should be accorded dignity through a model dubbed Respectful Maternity Care to encourage more mothers to deliver in hospitals.
  • Training rolled out in Uasin Gishu County with hope to cover more counties in the country.

Low number of women delivering in health facilities has been attributed to mistreatment of expectant mothers by nurses and midwives. Fortunately, more mothers will now give birth in hospital following the launch of a new plan aimed at lowering deaths.

Moi University in collaboration with Uasin-Gishu County and Nepad recently embarked on training of more 20 midwives and nurses from various health facilities to change this tide.

Dean in-charge-of-School of Nursing and Midwifery at Moi University Dr Dinah Chelagat, said women should be accorded dignity through a model dubbed Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to encourage more mothers to deliver in hospitals.

The Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, indicates that more than one-third of births (37 per cent) in the country took place at home. The report also shows that 61 per cent of births were delivered in a health facility; 46 per cent in a public facility and 15 per cent in a private one.

Healthcare workers

“We asked ourselves why mothers seek assistance of traditional birth attendants and realized they prefer them because they handle them with dignity, privacy and respect. This why we decided to train our healthcare workers to equip them with necessary skills,” explained Dr Chelagat.

She said recent studies indicate that about 43 per cent of expectant mothers opt for traditional birth attendants, citing physical, verbal and sexual abuses in hospitals. The numbers went up due to Covid-19 pandemic as more preferred home deliveries for fear of contracting the virus.

The health expert said they have rolled out training in Uasin Gishu County and hope to cover more counties in the country.

This has resulted in referrals of patients to nearby health facilities for obstetric interventions including C-section, some which could have been delivered normally under the care of trained nurses and mid-wives.

Karen Jebichi, 27, displays her maternity card after seeking check-up services from a traditional birth attendant.

Photo credit: Stanley Kimuge | Nation Media Group

Uasin-Gishu County Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno noted that several health facilities will benefit from the program. Among the hospitals earmarked include Ziwa, Moiben, Kesses, Kapteldon, Burnt-Forest, Turbo and Eldoret West.

“We need to encourage more mothers to embrace safe delivery in hospitals. This will go a long way in improving health-being of the children,” said the official.

He challenged learning institutions to develop courses to empower the traditional birth attendants and tap their knowledge to compliment the public health system.

County Health Executive Evelyn Rotich, said the devolved unit was recording more than 62 per cent of mothers seeking skilled deliveries in health facilities while about 60 per cent attend ante-natal and post-natal care.

“We really want our mother to attend these clinics. We would encourage at least four ante-natal visits. We are at 78 per cent in terms of child immunization and working towards attaining 90 per cent,” said Ms Rotich.

Family planning

She decried the low uptake of family planning in the county, which stands at about 50 per cent.

Mr Benson Mapesa, Nepad Kenya CEO noted the need for national government and counties to employ more health workers to bridge the gap.

“As we strive to achieve universal health coverage, we need professional health workers. We need to strengthen connections between mother and nurse, since this will help reduce child and maternal deaths,” he said.


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