Kenya hosts African Union health conference to improve maternal health

Health CS Sicily Kariuki and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta with officials from the African Union and the Ministry of Health at the opening of the AU Conference on Maternal,Newborn and Child health

Nairobi, KENYA, October 29, 2018: The Government of Kenya has made remarkable gains in maternal and child health that has led to significant drop in mortality rates over the last decade.

Addressing the 2nd African Union Conference in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Nairobi today Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), Sicily Kariuki attributed the reduction to prioritization of women, children and adolescents’ health in national development plans and the increase of resources towards improving the health of this group.

The CS thanked the President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta who was the chief guest at the event for championing maternal and child health, noting that the introduction of free maternity services and the beyond zero programme has resulted in a 100 percent increase in the number of women giving birth in public health facilities and urged the county governments to invest more resources in maternal and child health interventions.

She added that to end maternal and child deaths,the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda will extend maternal health services to 1.3 million pregnant women currently not covered by any medical insurance.

“These women will be registered for Linda mama at their nearest participating health facility making them eligible for cost free antenatal services, child delivery, immunization and pediatric care for the newborns for one year. Further, UHC will avail health insurance to about three million children attending public secondary schools, the CS revealed.

She also acknowledged that there still exists significant regional differences with Turkana, Isiolo, Garissa and Kisumu counties having higher institutional maternal mortality of over 200 per 100,000 deliveries compared to the two counties of Elgeyo-Marakwet and Nyamira which, have better institutional Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of less than 50 per 100,000 deliveries.

She noted that despite heavy investments in maternal and child health, Africa continues to face challenges related to geographical barriers and quality of care.

“The causes of maternal and child deaths are preventable, it is therefore incumbent upon us all to address these factors. We need to intensify efforts to keep girls in school and in the short term, diminish HIV, syphilis, polio and other diseases that continue to take a toll on mothers and children,” she stressed.

She called upon the delegates to innovate strategies that will assist countries in the continent and beyond to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality.

The conference themed: “Accelerate efforts and focus Towards Ending Preventable, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescents’ Deaths by 2030,” is jointly organized by the African Union and the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Health
to brainstorm on how to improve maternal and child health.