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Investment in maternal healthcare in Kirinyaga pays off as more mothers access skilled delivery


The establishment of a maternity wing at South Ngariama Health Center, in Mwea, Kirinyaga County has turned out to be one of the most impactful projects implemented by the County Government in the recent past.

The ward that was opened in October last year by Governor Anne Waiguru, has become a haven for expectant mothers who now have a conducive environment to deliver their babies under the care of skilled birth attendants.

Provision of skilled care at birth is considered the single most important strategy in preventing neonatal morbidity and mortality thus contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals on health.

South Ngariama health facility that is situated in the far flung Mwea East Subcounty, serves a whopping population of 7,000 residents drawn from villages such as Morgan, Ikulungu, Itangi, Kadawa, Miatuini, Makuti and Kiumbu. Before its establishment, residents used to cover long distances to seek services in hospitals such as Gathigiriri, Kimbimbi and Murinduko, almost 10 kilometers away.

Five Months after the maternity wing was opened, over 60 successful deliveries have been conducted there. About 250 women have sought antenatal clinic services, representing a substantial rise from the previous wholes year’s attendance of 229 women. Postnatal clinic attendance has also risen to 359 mothers, compared to a mere 107 in 2022. Additionally, 658 women have accessed family planning services at the facility.

Governor Anne Waiguru has hailed the maternity ward as a game-changer for mothers emphasizing the importance of providing accessible and affordable maternal and neonatal services as a way of preventing home births and reducing mortality rates.

“The South Ngariama Maternity wing offers comprehensive services, including antenatal, postnatal, and mother and child health services. Our specialists ensure continuous care for both mothers and children up to five years after delivery,” stated Governor Waiguru.

Evelyn Kahare, the Nurse-in-charge noted a marked increase in patient numbers since the maternity wing was launched compared to the previous year, attributing this surge to heightened awareness of the services offered by the facility. She emphasized the importance of the maternity wing in averting potential home births.

“Mothers used to journey from South Ngariama to distant locations like Kiumbu, Murinduko, Gathigiriri, or Kimbimbi. The 51 deliveries we’ve conducted would most likely have ended up as home births were it not for this facility. We aspire to achieve zero home deliveries as Governor Anne Waiguru has empowered us with specialists and skilled personnel to serve the community,” she noted.

The success story of this project cannot be told without the mention of Community Health Promoters (CHPs). They play a critical role in provision of primary healthcare since they are the link between the community and the health facility. The CHPs attached to this facility have been identifying expectant mothers within their villages and ensuring that they attend the minimum required antenatal clinics and also deliver in hospital. They also make follow-ups to ensure that the mothers attend postnatal clinics and that their babies are immunized accordingly.

Phyllis Karinga, a CHP attached to the facility said that they have been doing a lot of sensitization among mothers and the community at large as far as health matters are concerned. “Mothers in this region previously had a challenge whereby many of them gave birth at home, but that has changed with the opening of the maternity wing.

The distance to the health facilities was the biggest challenge; before getting there, you’d find the mother has already delivered. Giving birth at home had detrimental results such as infection, stillbirths, excessive bleeding, and even maternal and infant mortality.” Karinga noted. She also thanked the County Government for the recent training offered to them as well as the monthly stipend they are now receiving, saying it has gone a long way in boosting their morale.

Stephen Kinyua, a village elder, reiterated the sentiments expressed by the community health promoter. He pointed out the dire situation prior to the facility’s establishment, saying that their village is now changed.

Another beneficiary of the maternity wing, Emily Wanjiku, said that the facility was the best gift to mothers in the area. “The facility has facilitated all my eight antenatal clinics. Prior to its operationalization, I would spend Kshs. 800 traveling to hospitals in Murinduko, Kiumbu, or Kimbimbi from Ngumano area. Now, I spend as little as Kshs. 200 to access the facility. The doctors provide excellent services, and we are even provided with a balanced diet.Wanjiku said.

South Ngarima Health Center is one of Governor Waiguru’s projects aimed at strengthening primary health systems in the county, with 20 dispensary projects having been undertaken within the last three years.

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