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Many women in Marsabit still deliver at home, report shows

Thursday June 13 2019

Marsabit health awareness forum

A section of Marsabit County residents during a health awareness forum Nomads Trail Hotel on June 13,2019. They expressed the problems that pregnant women are exposed to during and after delivery. PHOTO | JACOB WALTER | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JACOB WALTER
By JACOB WALTER
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While giving birth should never be a deadly affair, many women die in Marsabit County while delivering because of lack of proper medical attention.

Participants at a health forum held Thursday in Marsabit town agreed that large numbers of expectant mothers are either on their own in remote areas or under the care of traditional birth attendants.

A United Nations Population Fund report of 2014 said maternal mortality remains abnormally high at 488 deaths in every 100,000 live births.

According to the Marsabit County Clinical Health Services Assistant Director Fatumah Nurr, many expectant mothers prefer traditional mid-wives instead specialised services.

HOME DELIVERIES

She gave the example of Sagante-Jaldesa Ward with about 1,000 households but only 36 deliveries are done at health centres every month, while the rest of mothers choose to deliver at home.

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The health official alluded to the fact that Marsabit is among counties having an unacceptable high level of maternal deaths, which is attributable to failure by some expectant women to go for antenatal clinics.

Ms Nurr also decried the delay by some health officials in some sub-counties to refer women to specialised health facilities on time before their conditions get critical.

Marsabit County Clinical Services Assistant
Marsabit County Clinical Services Assistant Director Fatuma Nurr speaks during a "Pathway to Safe Motherhood Project" forum in Marsabit Town on June 13, 2019. She said expectant mothers in the county are grappling with a myriad of challenges. PHOTO | JACOB WALTER | NATION MEDIA GROUP

SUBSTANDARD CARE

The health forum dubbed “Pathway to Safe Motherhood Project” is an initiative of Saku Accountability Forum, a local NGO.

According to experts, substandard care comprises delay in initiating treatment, incorrect treatment, infrequent monitoring and skipping required laboratory tests.

On May 19, 2019 Marsabit County Health Executive Jama Wolde decried the acute shortage at the county blood bank which he said results to 12 maternal deaths per year.

BLOOD DONATION

He attributed the shortage to unwillingness by the residents to donate blood either as a result of expectations of monetary incentives or cultural beliefs which bar donation of human blood to others.

Marsabit Women’s Advocacy Development Organisation (Mwado) CEO Nurriah Golloh detailed how biased cultural and traditional practices jeopardise the lives of women.

She said that debate on sexuality and reproductive matters is a taboo, thus no open deliberations are allowed in any family circles. Such discussions are left to the elderly in the society.