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Why are Kenyans allowing carelessness to claim mothers’ lives?

Written by Jane Godia
Why are Kenyans allowing carelessness to claim mothers’ lives? [Infographic: Internews]

On November 4, 2015, Elizabeth Akal died at the Kakamega General Provincial Hospital, two weeks later another woman Abigail Ng’asia had a 12 hour ordeal waiting to be attended to in a medical case that left her dead. Ng’asia leaves behind a two week old baby whose chances of survival have been greatly reduced by the simple fact that the mother is dead.

A young girl, who was still a student of Masinde Muliro University, Ng’asia’s life was cut short by negligence of medical personnel who would have been expected to give her the best. The same applies to Akal’s case, who already had a dead foetus in her womb that required urgent medical attention but came across a ruthless gynaecologist who even forgot that she had taken the Hippocratic Oath on completion of her studies that she would treat the sick through holding specific ethical standards to the best of her ability.

This was not to be seen when doctor rudely said she was too tired with just an hour of overtime.

What of the Kiambu case where a woman died on the operation table simply because there was a blackout and no fuel in the generator? How can a hospital operate without a generator? If we are to ignore cases of those who have been taken to theatre, what happens to those who were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or on oxygen? Did they survive or are their deaths normal and should just be considered as any other statistic! In an ideal situation, a generator in a very important facility like a hospital is expected to automatically pick up immediately power goes off.

These three cases that were aptly covered in the Daily Nation are just a tip of the complexities of maternal health and mortality that Kenyan women are facing. While a few get reported in the media, many more are buried silently without it ever coming out that they died out of medical negligence.

It’s a mark of audacity of negligence that the national and county governments must take responsibility of.

The fact that health services were devolved to the counties was actually supposed to bring tears of joy to the people and specifically the women of Kenya. However, this is not the case as more and more tears of pain are being shed ever since counties took over management of health.

What happened to the Jubilee Coalition Manifesto that swore no woman will die while giving life? Never in the history of this country have mothers died so much out of carelessness of medical personnel than it has happened since March 2013. Yet it’s through this Coalition that the Beyond Zero Campaign is being run. It’s also in this government that the best promises have been given to protect mothers from dying when giving life. However, it’s ironical that it’s through this government that the country has experienced the highest number of strikes from doctors and nurses. It’s through this same government that many Kenyans, including mothers and children have died from effects of medical strikes.

The statistics of maternal mortality in Kenya indicate that there are 488 deaths per 100,000 live births which culminate to 8,000 women dying from pregnancy related consequences.

The counties that are now experiencing abnormal maternal deaths in cases where lives would have been saved are not among the 15 counties with the highest burden of maternal mortalities. Although Kakamega is ranked as the county with the fifth highest maternal deaths at 364 per 100,000, Kiambu is nowhere near here. Yet the just ended Millennium Development Goals had its Goal number 5 looking at improving maternal health. It’s these goals, that the Sustainable Development Goals are building on and Goal 3 of the Post-2015 Development Framework seeks to ensure healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all. The first target of this goal is reducing global maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. This will not be achieved if women continue dying like flies out of negligence.

However, if carelessness and callousness of Kenya’s medical personnel continues, the gains that were achieved through the MDGs and before devolution will be lost.

It’s important that people are made to take up their responsibilities and account for deaths caused deliberately which should be called murder.

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