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Progress in maternal and child healthcare still slow, say stakeholders


Concern over maternal and child healthcare

Medical professionals say the decline of mortality rates for mothers and their babies is slow

Accessing quality care for expectant mothers during and after birth still remains a significant challenge.

Although child mortality rates have generally reduced by over 20 per cent and antenatal coverage increased to 96 per cent in the past decade, medical professionals say the decline of mortality rates for mothers and their babies is slow and more needs to be improved.

Speaking during the Quality of Care in Maternal Health Symposium in Nairobi, Deputy Director of Medical Services Mohamed Sheikh said Kenya has made significant progress in improving maternal and child healthcare, however, access to quality services still remained a challenge.

“In our 2014 study, we found that poor quality care contributed to more than 80 per cent of deaths of both mothers and their children.

These deaths are preventable and could be avoided if quality measures and practices are instituted,” said Dr Sheikh, who was speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Health Acting Director General Wekesa Masasabi.

He further noted that the incidence of disrespect and abuse in maternities have also been reported in various hospitals in the country. Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University, Prof Marleen Temmerman, who was also at the symposium, said healthcare in the country, particularly maternal care, was riddled with countless delays that often cost lives.

Other points of concern raised were improving person-centred quality care as well as highlighting the silent tragedy of still births. “Giving birth is an experience a mother never forgets,” said private midwife Lucy Muchiri, adding that caregivers needed to handle women better.