NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 3 – Ninety three mothers were on Monday discharged from the Pumwani Maternity Hospital without paying any fees as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government begins implementing the provision of free maternal services in all public hospitals, clinics and heath centres.
Governor Evans Kidero indicated that all the hospital costs from the time a mother is admitted until discharge from hospital will be taken care of in the initiative which will cost the government about Sh8 billion per year.
“All the mothers who have given birth at the Pumwani Maternity hospital have been let go in compliance with the presidential directive. Pumwani Maternity hospital is probably the third largest maternity hospital in Africa north of River Limpopo and south of the Sahara,” the Nairobi governor said.
President Kenyatta on Saturday waived maternal fees in all public institutions in what he described as an effort by the Jubilee government to deliver on its goals.
Health Secretary James Macharia, on the other hand, maintained that no public hospital should charge maternity fees henceforth.
“Anybody who was charged any money from Saturday should go back to the hospital and should be refunded or re-reimbursed the money that they paid,” he said.
“The manifesto for Jubilee did confirm that we shall provide free maternal healthcare and this is the beginning of that process.”
He stressed the cost of any kind of procedure associated with child delivery will be covered.
“In health centres in the rural areas, it is about Sh2,500, in county hospitals it is about Sh5,000 and Kenyatta hospital is about Sh20, 000. All that will be covered by the government because it is free regardless of any complications that may come along,” he said.
Macharia said that in the next 100 days, the ministry will spend Sh1 billion across the country on the maternity services “and then from the 2013/2014 financial year, on average it will be about Sh8 billion every year,” he said.
“Already that programme has been discussed by the Treasury and it has been given priority in terms of making sure that those funds will be available.”
He further called on the public to take advantage of the initiative so as to among other things reduce the mortality rate among expectant mothers.
“We are happy that our mothers from today will get to come to hospitals and they will stop having deliveries at homes because part of the reasons for high mortality rates is deliveries taking place at home,” he said.
“So we would like to appeal to everybody including those in the rural areas to make sure they take advantage of this great concession by the government to provide substantial funds to make sure that the deliveries and health care are provided free of charge.”