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Experts Link Haemorrhage to High Maternal Deaths in Kenya Featured

Written by Duncan Mboyah

Haemorrhage, complications from hypertension in pregnancy, sepsis and abortion complications are the leading cause of maternal deaths in Kenya, says Dr Bartilol Kigen, the Head Reproductive and Maternal Health Services Unit at the Ministry of Health.

 HIV related deaths account for 20 percent of deaths even though they contribute the largest proportion of indirect causes.

Dr Kigen blames high mortality ration to low utilisation of skilled care where only 47 percent of expectant women complete the recommended four antennal care visits.

Other factors contributing to the high maternal mortality are shortage of health workers, inadequate health care provider skills and harmful socio-cultural practices.

“It is strange that the ratio keep lowering yet women who attend antennal clinic for the first time stands at 92 percent,” the official says.

The contraceptive prevalence rate at 46 percent has remained low while the unmet need for family planning is still high at 26 percent.

Dr Kigen is calling on the 47 County governments to develop their own family planning programmes to ensure that the citizens are fully aware of what there roles are and is expected of them.

The official announced that the Government plans to re-train 4,000 nurses on public relations to help improve hospital visits that have been poor due to the fear factor by expectant women fear of being mistreated by the officials.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee, revealed that 15 out of the 47 Counties account for 98 percent of maternal deaths during child birth in the country.

Out of the total number of women of reproductive age who have died, 21 per cent was as a result of pregnancy related causes.

The UNFPA official says the deaths of 488 women per 100,000 can be reduced only through political good will and the active participation of civil society.

“Kenya can achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on maternal health only through the involvement of all stakeholders,” Chatterjee told a media briefing on the status of maternal health in the country at a Nairobi hotel.

Recent case studies demonstrate that great political leadership can dramatically influence the impact of health interventions that contribute to reduction of maternal mortality amongst other health interventions.

He disclosed that Mandera County leads in maternal deaths at 2,136 annually followed by Wajir at 581 and Nairobi at 533 deaths.

He said that it was unfortunate that globally, maternal mortality has reduced by 47 percent over the past two decades from 400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 210 in 2010 yet Kenya’s ratio has remained constant since 1990 at 488.

Chatterjee called for the use of ambulances as a treatment process and not as a transport system to the hospital.

“A holistic change that involves availing of necessary facilities is needed to support efforts by nurses since they work under pressure and difficult areas that are not reachable by good roads,” Kenya Red Cross Public Health Manager, Angela Rotich, revealed.

She appealed to the 47 Counties to offer short term motivational courses for health employees besides improving infrastructure.

In Lamu, Garrisa, Wajir, Mandera and Turkana Counties, over half of the deaths occur during delivery while Marsabit, Siaya, Kisumu and Taita Taveta Counties have the highest proportion of deaths during pregnancy.

Kenya is the among the top 10 countries with the highest number of HIV related maternal deaths and about 20 percent of maternal deaths is indirectly related to HIV.

Approximately 8,000 women die in Kenya annually at childbirth due to poverty, insecurity and lack of access to health facility.

The counties with the leading maternal deaths are Mandera, Turkana, Wajir, Nairobi, Migori, Nakuru, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Marsabit, Lamu, Garrisa, Taita Taveta and Isiolo.

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