There is some depressing news from Kenyatta National Hospital. Pregnancy-related complications killed the second highest number of patients there last year. The situation at KNH is, indeed, a reflection of a much wider national problem, considering that the public health care facilities elsewhere are not as well-equipped or manned by top practitioners.
With the remarkable investment in the development of health facilities over the years, it is unacceptable that giving birth should be a major killer. It is indefensible and a mockery of the huge strides the country has made in improving access to quality health care.
According to statistics, kidney diseases were the most dangerous, claiming some 47 per cent of all the patients admitted to KNH and deaths from pregnancy-related illnesses were not far behind, accounting for 38 per cent.
These being mainly referrals, it is a pointer to serious inadequacies where they originated from. Though maternal care has always been a significant part of the health system, it is still inadequate.
Clearly, more needs to be done to ensure the health of expectant mothers and safe delivery.
Though the free maternity programme in public hospitals is laudable, more emphasis should be put on prenatal care to prevent complications and ease delivery.