NAIROBI, Kenya, June 5 – The Ministry of Health has hired more doctors at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital to help meet the demand for free maternal health care.
The Cabinet Secretary for Health, James Macharia, told Capital FM News that additional doctors were hired following doubling of patient numbers at the public health facility.
“From last night we’ve added eight doctors to Pumwani alone and the Director of Medical Services is looking at the requirements of other institutions to make sure the resources are there to cater and to cope with the high volume of new mothers coming for delivery,” he said.
Macharia said that even though maternal health care was to be provided at no charge in public health care facilities within the first 100 days of President Uhuru Kenyatta assuming office, preparations could not have been made pending a presidential declaration.
“It’s being sorted out because one of the things we could not do is ask them to be ready because it is the prerogative of the government to make the directive. Until he (President Kenyatta) announced we couldn’t tell them to get ready,” he said.
Macharia however welcomed the increase in patient numbers on account of the free service saying that it would see a decline in pregnancy-related deaths. “It’s a blessing in disguise that we have this kind of situation at Pumwani and other hospitals as well because I’m told even at the Kenyatta National Hospital, the numbers went up by double. I think if you do a survey across the country it will be the same.”
“That’s exactly what we wanted to happen. Instead of mothers delivering at home, they come to proper health facilities because with that we shall reduce the maternal mortality rate. Currently we are among the highest in the world at about 488 maternal deaths for every 100,000 against the global average of 210,” he said.
Macharia expressed optimism that the impact of the free medical services will be felt in a year’s time, “We should be able to tell you that there is a big, big drop in the maternal mortality rate. So although the short term effect is that Pumwani, other places, Kenyatta is overwhelmed, it has the effect which we wanted.”
In the long term, Macharia said, the government is working toward devolving medical training to ensure all Kenyans have access to quality health care.
“What is happening now, we’ve got all the senior doctors in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and now if you open a medical facility in Turkana, there’ll be no doctors because they’re not used to being in Turkana.”