Kenya recognised for respectful maternity care initiative during the ECSA Health Ministers meeting

Geneva, Switzerland, 21 May 2017 – Kenya’s Free Maternity Initiative received high recognition at the ECSA Health Community meeting held at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Geneva on Saturday. Two East African countries Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania were honored on Respectful Maternity Care.

During the meeting the Director of Medical Services, Dr. Jackson Kioko noted that because of the maternity care initiative Kenya has witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of mothers delivering in public health facilities hence reducing the maternal mortality rate.

“With free maternity services, we have seen the number of women delivering in our facilities rise from 600, 000 in 2013 to 1.2 million in 2015. The Maternal Mortality Ratio has decreased from 488 to 362 per 100, 000. In addition, 58% of women have access to contraceptives,” said the DMS who represented the CS for Health’

Kenya implemented the free maternity program in 2013 after conducting a research in 2011 – 2014 to measure the prevalence of disrespect and abuse experienced during childbirth in public health facilities. 

The  baseline data had showed that drivers of disrespect and abuse exist at policy, facility and community levels and nearly 20% of new mothers reported feeling humiliated at some point during their childbirth experience, said Dr Jackson Kioko, the Director of Medical Services during the event. 

Based on the findings the Government put in place the several measures to ensure respectful maternity care.”We have invested in development and dissemination of policies that ensure respectful care principles and accountability as well as legal enforcement mechanisms and reviewed the pre and in-service training curriculum to include values, attitude and behavior change,  ” said Dr. Kioko.”

The DMS noted that Government of Kenya  has also improved facility infrastructure and equipment, supply chain management, supervision and management of staff and resources and increased social support for health workers including introduction of maternity open days for the community and use of client service charter.

The Government had also strengthened Community education and sensitization on client rights and expectations of facility care via community health workers/groups.

“We are proud to set an example of ensuring a positive childbirth experience for all women. It is our responsibility to ensure that every woman gives birth in an environment that promotes physical and emotional wellbeing, and promotes dignity and respect,” stated Dr. Kioko.

These will improve the health of all members of the community and contribute to reaching SDG targets of reducing global burden of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity as the country moves towards ending preventable maternal deaths by 2030, he added.