This week Ace Africa, Siaya County Senior Health Team had an exciting visit from Jochnick Foundation, following the award of a new grant to improve access to obstetric care for women in Siaya, rural Western Kenya.
In rural areas of Kenya, obstetric care, referrals and outreach services are not adequate to prevent women from delivering at home, nor are there adequate numbers of skilled birth attendants available for at home deliveries. In Siaya many women do not deliver in health centres and instead give birth at home with few receiving attention from qualified birth attendants at home.
Maternal health problems continues to causes extreme concern for stakeholders within the health sector and calls for concerted efforts to ensure that the percentage of home births drastically reduces especially in the wake of improved maternal health technology and knowledge. Most maternal deaths in Kenya are due to causes directly related to pregnancy, childbirth and obstetric complications such as severe bleeding, infection, hypertensive disorders and obstructed labour. The majority of these causes of maternal death are preventable with adequate health facility knowledge and equipment. Strengthening the health system and improving quality of health delivery is pivotal to reversing the trend of high maternal morbidity and mortality.
Ace Africa’s strategy seeks to train community health workers (CHWs) to cover basic obstetric care, referrals, follow-ups as well as wider community health including malaria detection and counselling, life-saving skills and home based care. As well as providing first-hand support, CHWs will educate and encourage pregnant women to attend antenatal clinic visits and to deliver in health facilities.
Ace wants to see a minimum of one CHW at all births when a health centre delivery is not possible in rural Siaya to ensure both the women and new-borns have the best chance of survival. There is an urgent need to strengthen the health system and improve the quality of health delivery. The support of organisations such as Jochnick Foundation is pivotal for reversing the trend of high maternal morbidity and mortality.