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Invest oil billions in basic healthcare

Saturday August 10 2019


A nurse checks on newborns at Consolata Mathari in Nyeri County on January 2, 2017. Let’s improve our maternal healthcare and save lives. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Isn’t it great we are now an oil exporting country, earning USD 12 million (Ksh1.2 billion) from our first export? Our roads will soon be paved with gold. Imagine that.

We often think the purpose of roads is restricted to driving on. Not for us, though. Roads have acquired an additional use as delivery rooms.

Alas, it’s not just the roads anymore; child delivery has been extended to sidewalks, hospital receptions and corridors. For the most part, this is not on account of the urgency to deliver the baby.

It is attributed to mothers lacking the funds to pay the pre-requisite medical bill to have their baby delivered by medical professionals or the medical institution having insufficient manpower and resources to attend to all mothers.

With the unsafe birth comes the risk of complications, with some cases even leading to unnecessary and preventable death of the child or the mother.



No child should be an orphan at birth. No mother should lose and bury their child because of an unsafe birth.

We have the NHIF Linda Mama Initiative that offers basic healthcare to pregnant mothers throughout their pregnancy.

Is the initiative not working so that mothers have to pay for delivery? Or are mothers not taking up the service? Or worse, are they unaware of it? For an oil exporter, why are we regressing?

Well then, let’s go all the way back to our grandparents’ era. Since this free maternal service has a major resource issue, let’s look for manpower outside the medical institution.

Counties, it is time to hire mobile community midwives to attend and cater to pregnant mothers in dire need.

With mobile phones allowing such care to reach mothers efficiently, this is the best chance they have at delivering their child safely because assured help is at hand in case of any complications, and with no lurking anxiety of the bill to come.


Every child deserves a decent private birth; let’s give them a humane welcome.

Did I mention we have just become oil millionaires? In fact, President Uhuru Kenyatta remarked, “So, I think we have started the journey and it is up to us to ensure that those resources are put to the best use to make our country both prosperous and to ensure we eliminate poverty.”

Your Excellency, if I may, before all the money disappears into foreign reserves (as it does in this country), pregnant mothers living in poverty are the most deserving of a large share of this new income.

This money is what stands between life and death for them and their babies. It will determine whether they stand the risk of contracting infections from delivering on the floor that they later cannot treat.


Without this money, a child could grow up an orphan of the community being passed off to anyone who can help.

With that, the cycle of poverty continues rather than being eliminated. US$12 million may give hundreds, thousands of mothers the sight of their children growing up, escaping poverty and eliminating it along the way.

Let’s improve our maternal healthcare and save lives.

Ms Burini focuses on children’s issues; [email protected]