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Childhood mortality remains high despite health reforms


Early childhood mortality in the Luo Nyanza region is alarming, despite heightened efforts to improve child and maternal health. 

Data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2022 shows that Migori County has the highest number of infant mortality at 53 deaths per 1,000 live births. Kisumu recorded the least number of 40 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Siaya and Homa Bay Counties recorded 45 and 42 respectively against the national average of 32 deaths per 1,000 live births in the latest report conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Worryingly, the survey, further reveals that Migori County recorded the highest death of children under the age of five years at 73 deaths per 1,000 live births, Siaya County was second at  63. Homa Bay recorded 61 with Kisumu having the least Under-5 mortality rate at 45 above Kenya’s average of 41 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Speaking during the KDHS dissemination forum held in Kisumu County on Thursday, Godfrey Otieno, KNBS official, said the report has brought to light significant milestones in health indicators and identified areas that require urgent intervention in the region.

“The survey indicators show where we are and where we need to go.  In Nyanza region, Kisumu has performed well compared to other counties in a number of the indicators. The County leadership needs to leverage the insights provided by the KDHS 2022, to work towards improved healthcare access and quality,” Otieno stated.

Kisumu County Medical Services Director Dr. Don Ogola reiterated the county’s commitment to use the findings in shaping policy decisions, programs, and interventions to enhance health outcomes.

Dr. Ogola emphasized the role of Community Health Providers (CHPs) that have been engaged to enhance the healthcare system leading to reduced mortality rates in the lakeside County.

“Birth outcome starts from the conception day. The Medical Services department has focused on capacity building and performance contract reward to the CHPs to reach out to pregnant women and ensure they promote up to 8 Antenatal clinic visits as recommended by WHO,” he stated.

The leading probable causes of infant deaths, Dr. Ogola added, include lack of check-ups for pregnancy complications, unskilled antenatal care provision, and communicable diseases.

“The main cause of under-5 mortality is pneumonia, which is a communicable disease. Kisumu’s strategic plan envisions eliminating communicable diseases. To achieve this, we have increased immunization coverage for children to combat such illnesses,” he elaborated.

KDHS 2022 was implemented by the KNBS in collaboration with the Health Ministry and other stakeholders through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank.

Others are the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Nutrition International, the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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