Maternal mortality rates have declined in Nakuru by over 30 per cent in the past one year, statistics from the county’s Health department have shown.
The figures show that maternal deaths in the region have dropped from 374 per 100,000 live births to about 259.
Neonatal deaths between January and September 2018 stood at 454 while still births due to difficulties during labour, bleeding and hypertension stood at 1,346.
The statistics link the decline in the deaths to improvements made in health facilities including revamping of maternity hospitals in the region and availability of enough staff and equipment to give effective services to mothers and babies.
The statistics further indicate that about 96 per cent of pregnant mothers in Nakuru County attend at least one antenatal clinic while 48 per cent attend four antenatal clinics, with at least 70 per cent giving birth in hospitals.
In 2013, Nakuru County had a skilled delivery of 51 per cent.
In 2014 it was ranked among the top four counties in Kenya with high maternal death burden by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).
According to the County Health Executive Kariuki Gichuki, the previous high maternal mortality rates were due to low use of maternal health services.
Dr Gichuki revealed that at least 100 hospitals are offering maternal healthcare services in the county, up from about 70 facilities in 2013 when devolution started.
The opening of the 250-bed capacity Margaret Kenyatta Mother Baby Wing at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital in 2018 has played a significant role curbing maternal deaths.
The state-of-the-art facility built at a cost of more than Sh400 million is the biggest maternity wing in the larger Rift Valley region.
It also serves Bomet, Baringo, Narok, Kericho, Samburu, Laikipia and Nyandarua counties.
According to the Nakuru Level Five Hospital Medical Superintendent Joseph Mburu, the facility has contributed immensely to the drop in infant and maternal deaths.
“Giving birth outside hospital is a risky gamble, especially in cases where expectant women run into unforeseen complications. The facility has provided affordable and quality healthcare for mothers and new-borns from several far-flung areas and even other counties,” said Dr Mburu.
Dr Mburu attributed the decline in maternal deaths to the fact that over 50 per cent of mothers in the region receive adequate pre-natal and postnatal care.
Initially, Nakuru was among regions in Kenya with a high maternal mortality rate.
At the Molo Sub-County Hospital, about 60 per cent of pregnant mothers receive skilled healthcare.
Also revamped is the Bondeni Maternity Hospital which serves mothers from various slums including Kivumbini, Lake View, Kwa Rhoda, Kaptembwa, Flamingo, Kaloleni and Bondeni among others.
The Bondeni hospital was set up in 1952 to take care of African women living in the South of the railway line in Nakuru town.
At the Gilgil Hospital, expectant mothers have a reason to smile after the facility was allocated Sh40 million, part of which will be used to upgrade the maternity wing.
Expectant mothers n Gilgil have been travelling to the Nakuru Level Five Hospital in Nakuru town for delivery.
According to Dr Gichuki, the county plans to establish and equip maternity wings in various hospitals to ensure that mothers do not have to travel long distances to get the services.
To undertake this, the Health department in Nakuru got the lion’s share of Governor Lee Kinyanjui’s 2019/2021 Sh21.3 billion budget.
It was allocated Sh6.6 billion, part of which it plans to use for infrastructural upgrade, hiring of more staff and training of doctors to help lower the maternal and infant mortality rates in the region.