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Why Many Kenyan Women Still Die While Giving Birth

Why Many Kenyan Women Still Die While Giving Birth

A recent study conducted in Kenya, known as the First Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, revealed a distressing statistic in 2018: four out of every five expectant mothers who died in hospitals in the country experienced inadequate care.

Fast forward five years, and not much has changed, according to Dr. Edward Serem, the Head of the Division of Reproductive & Maternal Health.

Kenya continues to face sub-optimal healthcare due to a lack of skills among healthcare workers and insufficient availability of commodities and life-saving equipment.

Maternal Mortality in Kenya: Currently, Kenya’s maternal mortality rate stands at 355 per 100,000 live births.

In other words, approximately 5,000 women and girls lose their lives each year due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.

However, this national average masks a more alarming situation at the county level, particularly in the Arid and Semi-Arid regions.

Dr. Frederick Kireki Omanwa, the President of the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, highlights the disparities, with some counties reporting maternal mortality rates as high as 3,000, 1,700, and 1,600 per 100,000 live births.

Addressing the Healthcare Gap: To tackle this issue effectively, Dr. Kireki emphasizes the urgent need for more healthcare workers.

Numerous reports, including the Born to Soon report, launched at the International Maternal Newborn Health Conference, support this solution.

They advocate for increasing service coverage, improving quality, and addressing the existing workforce gaps.

The reports also shed light on the significant disparity in service coverage based on wealth, with skilled health personnel attending only 35% of births in poorer areas compared to 92% in wealthier regions.

Global Efforts and Challenges: Maternal mortality reduction is a global concern, and progress has stagnated since 2015 due to declining investments in maternal and newborn health.

Dr. Queen Dube, Chief of Health Services for Malawi’s Ministry of Health, expresses concern about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 at the current pace.

Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director of the Department for Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization, stresses the need for countries to accelerate their efforts by moving ten times faster than their current rate of decline in maternal mortality.

Kenya’s Progress and Global Targets: While Kenya’s annual rate of decline in maternal mortality (3.3%) surpasses the global average, it is still insufficient to achieve the country’s target of 140 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The global aim is to reduce maternal mortality to less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030. Unfortunately, based on current estimates, more than 60 countries are projected to fall short of these reduction targets.

Why Many Kenyan Women Still Die While Giving Birth



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