Health Ministry quells disquiet over free maternity

October 30, 2015 3:47 pm
Dr Nicholas Muraguri, the Director of Medical Services
Dr Nicholas Muraguri, the Director of Medical Services

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 30 – The national government moved with speed on Friday to ensure free maternity services remained a reality after Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero threatened to reinstate charges.

Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri held a meeting with the Chairman of the Council of Governors Peter Munya to smooth over the situation and succeeded in getting the county governments to re-commit to the provision of free maternity services.

A commitment aided by the release of over Sh200 million to the counties as payment for maternity services rendered.

In a letter to Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, Kidero said his county government would be forced to reintroduce charges for maternity services at the public health facilities it managed if a debt of Sh165 million owed to it by the national government wasn’t paid off, “with immediate effect.”

“Nairobi City County has an outstanding reimbursement of over nine months. This situation is untenable,” he said in his letter.

Health Centres receive Sh2,500 per delivery, Level 4 and 5 hospitals receive Sh5,000 while referral hospitals, under the national government, receive Sh17,500 per delivery.

In his inaugural Madaraka Day speech, President Kenyatta announced that expectant mothers would no longer pay for maternity services sought at public health facilities.

A step taken to reduce Kenya’s high maternal mortality rates. “Currently we are among the highest in the world at about 488 maternal deaths for every 100,000 against the global average of 210,” Macharia told Capital FM News in 2013.

Figures that have since been revised by the national government to reflect the positive impact of making maternity services accessible to all.

Kidero’s letter isn’t the first bump in the road for the free service and comes at a time when The National Treasury has admitted to a cash flow problem.

Previously, health workers have accused the national government of underestimating the true cost of providing free maternity services.

The public health workers available, their unions argued, being far too few and thereby overworked and underpaid.

READ: 8 unborn babies die as strike takes its toll

But Muraguri told Capital FM News on Friday that hiccups were to be expected as the Jubilee government sought to make good on its campaign promises and international commitment to reduce maternal mortality.


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