Written by John Kabaka
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Ms Louisa Muteti who heads the international confederation of midwives- Kenya chapter speaks to the media during the conference. Photo/ John Kabaka
Fourteen children and 21 mothers succumb to death on daily basis in the country in birth process, many in the hands of unskilled midwives, a science midwifery conference has said.
According to Ms. Louisa Muteti who heads the International Confederation of Midwives- Kenya Chapter, deaths resulting from pregnancy and birth remain relatively high in Kenya.
“Accessing professional productive health services is still a big challenge in this country, due to long distances from certified health care centers, rampant poverty leading to weak financial access to and in some instances lack of transport to health care facilities and not to sideline unskilled midwives and nurses,” said Muteti.
In Kenya, pregnancy and birth related deaths are estimated at 150,000 and 400,000 respectively, every year. With midwives and nurses and nurses accounting for more than 80% of the health force, their role in mitigating such unnecessary deaths and complications comes into sharp focus.
Globally it is estimated that 48 million women give birth without the support of someone recognized midwifery skills. As a result, more than 350,000 women die each year and millions more suffer infection and disability.
Inadequate workforce has also been identified as a glaring gap in the country’s health care sector. Kenya currently has just about 1.54 health workers per 1,000 populations, a figure that is way below the world health organization recommendation of 2.3 health workers per 1,000.
“As we celebrate the International Day of the Midwife this year, we are very keen in exploring how to deepen access to skilled nursing/midwifery services, ultimately impacting positively on the good health of mothers and children throughout the nation,” said Muteti.
This came up in a three day conference ending on Friday sponsored by “Save the children”, as a leading international children rights organization among other organizations in Kakamega.
Kenya currently has 43,970 nurses, 84% of who have training in midwifery, while major strides have been made in improving healthcare for mothers and children.
The country continues to register an overwhelming number of pregnancy and birth related complications, a fact that has been attributed to, among other things, inadequate numbers of skilled healthcare workers, rampant poverty, cultural tensions and inaccessibility of health institutions related distance as well.
According to Ms. Muteti as the world celebrates the international day of the midwife, the focus zeros on the role that nurses and midwives can play to contribute to improved healthcare for women and children.
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