, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu has described the free maternal care initiative by the Jubilee Government as a major milestone as it has reduced both maternal and infant deaths significantly.
Speaking during a review of the ministry’s score card on Friday, Mailu stated that many mothers have been able to access hospitals where they are assisted by qualified personnel.
He further pointed out that the stocking of hospitals and other health facilities with medicines and equipment has enabled Kenyans to receive quality services.
“The government chose to invest in women, that is mothers; to invest in children, to invest in diseases with high burden that affects Kenyans i.e. malaria and AIDS, to invest in refurbishing hospitals and other facilities across the country and deliberately cushion the poor who have no way to access health care because they have no disposable income,” he stated.
The CS also indicated that the government has invested heavily in hospitals and health facilities to be able to provide quality maternal healthcare.
“We are talking of introduction of free maternity services for mothers who go to deliver in public health institutions. If you go to these health centres, the reimbursement the government to those counties for delivery has led to an investment of Sh12 billion,” he said.
With regard to maternal care, Mailu stated that the number of mothers accessing health services has increased significantly following the introduction of the initiative.
“This current year, we have Sh4.328 billion to reimburse counties for mothers who deliver and we have seen the number of mothers delivering in health institutions or with a skilled birth attendant rise from 660,000 to over a million over that period, which is 62 percent,” he said.
He stated that the ministry expects that by the end of this financial year, there will be 1.2 to 1.5 million women delivering in health facilities.
“What is the impact of this? We have reduced maternal mortality from a high of 550 to 362 per 100,000 births. We have seen that we have reduced neo natal mortality from 52 to 39 and this is significant change because over the years, we have not been getting these kind of numbers,” he said.
In 2013, the government rolled out free maternal healthcare countrywide where women will have access to maternal services in public hospitals for free.
The Sh20 charged for registration in health centres had also been waived.
During the announcement, President Uhuru Kenyatta had stated that the measures are expected to increase access to required services by all pregnant mothers.
He had pointed out that they will also increase access to primary healthcare services in government health centres and dispensaries by all Kenyans.