President Kenyatta reloads the free maternity programme to end maternal and child mortality


NAIROBI, Kenya 18 October 2016 – Today the National Government unveiled a new expanded Free Maternity Care Programme dubbed Linda Mama.

To realize the full benefits of Linda Mama, the government has set aside Kshs 5.4 billion in this Financial Year (FY)

The programme seeks to reach 400,000 underserved women by expanding the network of institutions offering free maternity services beyond the current 2,400 public health facilities.

The aim of the plan is to improve access and quality of maternal, newborn and child health care services towards attainment of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development agenda.

Health Cabinet Secretary, Cleopa Mailu represented H.E the President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the launch dubbed Linda Mama, Boresha Jamii.

The CS explained that Linda Mama will leverage on Faith Based and Private Health facilities to decongest Public Health Facilities and widen access to maternity services by communities that largely rely on them.

“In the first phase we are extending free maternity services to over 700 mission facilities, to reach 200,000 women, currently delivering at home. In the expansion phase, we shall also partner with nearly 2000 Private Healthcare providers,” he revealed.

The CS noted that to increase efficiency of processing and payment of claims, Expanded Free Maternity programme will be managed by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), as opposed to the current mode of direct reimbursement by the National government. “This will also strengthen the role of NHIF in Healthcare financing.”

The Free maternity care programme was introduced in 2013 after shocking statistics revealed that over 6000 women were dying every year from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth. Since then the government has invested over KES 9 billion in the Programme which has averted over 2000 deaths of women and 30000 child deaths every year.

During the first year of implementation, the Free Maternity Services programme, led to a 35 percent increase of deliveries in public health facilities. The number of skilled deliveries continues to rise and currently public health facilities are handling over 1 million deliveries. Waiving of maternity costs has also had a positive economic impact on poor households as they spend their incomes on other family needs and investments.

“This is more than double the 460 000 deliveries at the beginning of the programme. Overall in Kenya today 1.2 million women deliver in the care of a health worker health in public, private and faith based facilities.”

“When fully implemented, Linda Mama programme shall offer an expanded package of benefits comprising antenatal care, child delivery, postnatal care and child healthcare services to the newborn for a period of one year since enrollment.  This package includes both outpatient and in-patient services for both mother and baby.

Linda Mama is an important milestone in the devolution of health services in this country. It is critical that county governments fully support the implementation of this programme to enable women access essential health services close to their localities,” the CS expounded.

Before the free maternity programme was introduced 60 percent of women were delivering children at home, largely because they could not afford hospital bills.

“l am a mother of two and I am expecting my third born. My second child was born under the free maternity program and I am thankful to the government since I am now using the money I would have used on maternity services to buy food and milk for my children and other household requirements” said Ms Hamida Ali a beneficiary of the program.