Kenya maternal health care wanting

July 8, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – Kenya has been ranked position 21 in reproductive health care in Sub-Saharan Africa as it emerged that at least 6,000 women die in the country annually from pregnancy related complications.

A survey by the Centre for the Study of Adolescents showed that only 40 percent of expectant mothers in Kenya delivered with the help of a skilled professional.

Executive Director Rosemary Muganda said on Tuesday that haemorrhage was the highest cause of maternal deaths, which stands at 25 percent.

“Why is it that the deaths of women through pregnancy and child birth do not elicit as much outrage as deaths of other people?” she posed.

“The countries we have beaten are not people we should be competing with. If you are in a maths class and you get 31 percent while everybody else has scored five percent and you are saying you are number one, honestly, number one where?”

Kenya was ranked among 11 other countries in the highest risk category.

Ms Muganda said all the countries classified as highest risk had high maternal mortality ranging from 700 in Burkina Faso to 2,100 per 100,000 live births in Sierra Leone.

Cape Verde led the pack of 47 countries that were sampled in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the report, the country had the lowest reproductive risk index of 11 percent compared to Kenya’s 49 percent.

Kenya’s Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said that there had been lack of systematic commitment by government to invest in the health sector.

“In the current budget, we are spending not more than 5.8 percent of the national budget on the health sector for both the Ministry of Medical Services and Ministry of Public Health in a budget that almost nears a trillion shillings,” he said.

“If you compare this with Internal Security and Defence you find that those two ministries get over Sh80 billion while the health sector gets just Sh40 billion, which means we don’t take health seriously,” the Minister added.

The report also indicated that high fertility where a woman gave birth many times, low demand for family planning, delivery without skilled care, adolescent fertility where young girls gave birth and poor access to emergency obstetric care were the main factors contributing to high reproductive risk.

The report titled ‘Measure of Commitment: Sexual and Reproductive Risk for Sub-Saharan Africa’ also showed that 25 percent of births in the country were mistimed and 20 percent were unwanted.

“Unwanted births are highest among older women with 59 percent of births to women between the ages of 45-49 years unwanted, compared to 11 percent of those between the ages of 20-24 years,” Ms Muganda said.

Also revealed in the report was that 60 percent of married women did not use any contraception.

“32 percent of married women use a modern method of contraception and eight percent use a traditional method,” she said.

Men’s attitude towards contraception was also measured and 47 percent were of the opinion that women who used contraception could become promiscuous, 44 percent were of the opinion that a woman was the one who became pregnant so she should be the one to get sterilised, while 24 percent thought contraceptive use was a woman’s affair and a man should not have to worry about it.

The Minister on the other hand noted that there was lack of diagnostic capacity in most public hospitals, which was a cause of the poor rating.

Professor Nyong’o added that emergence of new diseases like HIV/AIDS were also affecting reproductive health.


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