Restoring dignity at centre of new plan to boost hospital births

Learning institutions urged to develop courses to empower traditional birth attendants.

What you need to know:

  • Recent studies show about 43 per cent of expectant mothers opted for traditional birth attendants, citing physical, verbal and sexual abuse.
  • The numbers went up due to the Covid-19 pandemic as more preferred home deliveries for fear of contracting the virus.

More mothers will now give birth in hospital following the launch of a new plan aimed at lowering deaths.

Dr Dinah Chelagat, dean of School of Nursing and midwifery at Moi University said the new model dubbed Respectful Maternity Care will encourage more mothers to deliver in hospital. “We asked ourselves why mothers prefer traditional birth attendants and we realised it was because they handle them with dignity and respect. This is why we decided to train our healthcare workers,” explained Dr Chelagat.

According to her, mistreatment of expectant mothers by nurses and midwives was to blame for low number of women delivering in hospital.

She said recent studies showed about 43 per cent of expectant mothers opted for traditional birth attendants, citing physical, verbal and sexual abuse.

The numbers went up due to the Covid-19 pandemic as more preferred home deliveries for fear of contracting the virus.

According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014, more than one-third of births (37 per cent) took place at home.

And to turn this around, Moi University, the Uasin Gishu County government and Africa Union’s Nepad embarked on training of more than 20 midwives and nurses from various hospitals.

Traditional birth attendants

The training is being rolled out in Uasin Gishu and later go to other counties.

Uasin-Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno said: “We need to encourage more mothers to safely deliver in the hospitals and to get help whenever there is a  problem. This will go a long way in improving wellbeing of the children,” said the official.

He challenged learning institutions to develop courses to empower traditional birth attendants and also tap the knowledge of traditional herbalists to complement health workers.

Benson Mapesa, the Nepad Kenya Chief Executive Officer, said there was need for national and county governments to employ more health workers to bridge the gap. “As we strive to achieve Universal Health Coverage, we need trained and professional health workers,” he said.

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