Maternity care: Kenya gets boots from UNICEF and the Philips Foundation
Written by JUDIE KABERIA,
Kenya is set to benefit from a joint project of UNICEF and the Philips Foundation which targets at reducing maternal and child mortality rates.
The project anchored on development of innovative health technology and solutions is intended to roll out programmes that will improve health care for pregnant mothers and their babies during pregnancy, birth as well as after birth.
“Under the leadership of the Government of Kenya and the Project’s Steering Committee at the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and The Philips Foundation will facilitate the development of innovative health technology and solutions in the field of maternal, new-born and child health,” Philips Group Communications – Africa stated in a press release.
The project which will run from September 2015 to 2018 further aims at providing affordable and tailor-made maternal and child care especially in needy areas of the country. “Together with partner organisations and local innovation hubs, with guidance from the Government of Kenya, we aim to develop and scale up innovative, low-cost and locally designed healthcare devices. These will contribute to improved and more equitable access to life-saving quality care for women and children across Kenya.”
The joint project comprehensively approaches Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) number 4 and 5 to care for women and children/newborns during pregnancy, birth and after delivery.The two goals were among the five goals from the MDGs incorporated in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted in New York on Saturday.
Despite aggressive interventions made, child and maternal mortality rates in Kenya remain high, making it a major world concern. “For 1 million babies worldwide every year, their day of birth is also their day of death. But with strengthened health systems and innovative solutions for both mothers and children, the chance for survival is greatly increased,” Sharad Sapra, UNICEF Director of the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre asserted.
Through the project, UNICEF and partners are focusing on employment of a new approach of adopting new technology and ideas to provide healthcare to mothers and their babies through a journey of safety from the time of pregnancy, to birth and also provide follow up care to the babies to the age where their immunity has stabilised.
“The Maternal and New-born Health Innovations Projects financed by The Philips Foundation and uses the local expertise of Philips Research Africa in Nairobi to mentor social entrepreneurs and facilitate the transfer of healthcare technology know-how in Kenya.”
By the year 2015 when the MDGs hit the deadline, the target was to reduce maternal and child mortality to 33 deaths in every 1,000 lives.
Kenya reduced the number of under -five child deaths per 1,000 from 90 in 2003 to 53 in 2014. However, it fell way too below the MDG target of 33 deaths in every 1,000 live births. Neonatal (provision of nursing care for new-born infants up to 28 days after birth) mortality was also high at 22 deaths in every 1,000 live births.
According to Philips Group Communication – Africa, the high death rate is largely blamed on lack of medical equipment and technology. “One significant cause of these deaths is the lack of medical equipment and technology to support even the most basic interventions for pregnant women and their newborns, especially in remote areas where healthcare worker slack essential medical resources.”