Community Health Workers sharing the importance of hospital deliveries with traditional birth attendants in Taita Taveta County
Increasing Facility-Based Deliveries to Improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes
Mothers who give birth at home face increased risk of infections and life-threatening complications, as do their babies. In Kenya, home-based births are a leading cause of maternal and neonatal deaths, many of which could be prevented if skilled birth attendants and proper equipment were available. In April 2013, three health facilities in Makueni County, in Kenya’s Eastern region, took action to improve maternal and child health outcomes in the county.
Staff from the Kanzokea Health Center and Kavatanzou and Tulimani dispensaries in Makueni County were taking part in the six-month Leadership Development Program (LDP), when they decided to increase the number of mothers delivering in their health facilities. The LDP was offered to them under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded Leadership, Management and Sustainability project, implemented by Management Sciences for Health. Participants learned how to mobilize resources as well as mobilize and align stakeholders to support their goals.
Using the skills they learned in the LDP, the three teams mobilized the community and sensitized its members on the benefits of facility-based delivery. They also engaged traditional birth attendants (TBAs) as delivery agents who referred expectant mothers to deliver in health facilities. The teams mobilized funds to finance the development of infrastructure. For example, Tulimani Dispensary renovated a dilapidated staff house at a cost of Kshs. 80,000 to make it habitable for the staff so that they could be available to offer services around the clock.
In just six months, the teams significantly increased the number of mothers delivering in the health facilities in the county. For example, Kanzokea health center increased the number of mothers delivering in the facility from 66 to 119, surpassing its target of 108. Similarly, Kavatanzou Dispensary increased the number of mothers delivering in the facility from eight to 43, surpassing its target of 40, while Tulimani Dispensary increased the number of mothers delivering in the facility from 2 to 67, surpassing its target of 60.
Tabitha Ireri, Clinical Officer in Charge of Tulimani Dispensary noted, “Through the LDP, things that seemed impossible, became possible.”
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