Over 4000 mothers from rural areas in Kilifi County have benefited from free obstetric ultrasound services during their pregnancies to reduce maternal deaths and infant mortality.
The County has benefitted from 15 portable ultrasound machines from the Aga Khan University under the ‘Mimba Yangu’ – My Pregnancy programme to be used by nurses in various health centres across the area.
Speaking during the Mimba Yangu project dissemination workshop at Mnarani hotel in Kilifi, Agha Khan University Associate Director Prof Marleen Temmerman explained that the project which does early detection of risk pregnancies and complications has contributed to increased numbers of women attending Antenatal Clinics.
Prof Temmerman said that many nurses in the county were now using the portable ultrasound machines after getting training on how to use them.
“We try to implement the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that requires a woman to have at least one ultrasound test during their pregnancies. In collaboration with the Kilifi County government, we have trained many nurses on how to use portable ultrasound machines,” she said.
Prof Temmerman reported that most women now look forward to seeing their unborn babies through ultrasound services, a step that has improved positive pregnancy experience as well as maternal and newborn pregnancy outcomes.
According to the reproductive health adolescent coordinator in the County Kenneth Miriti, more than 4,000 pregnant women are under the care of nurses having undergone ultrasound tests.
“Many mothers give birth without knowing how the baby is in the womb and this has sometimes led to the death of the infants, the mother or both. With ultrasound, the mother can know the condition of her pregnancy as early as possible and it is recommended that they get the services even on the 36th week of pregnancy,” he said.
Mr. Miriti added that by the end of the year more than 56 health facilities in the County will be in a position to offer ultrasound services to pregnant women in an effort to cut mortality rates in the area.
He said that more than 32 nurses and midwives were trained in basic obstetric ultrasound by using portable ultrasound devices. 250 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and 21 Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) have also been trained to use the devices and refer patients to health facilities in Ganze, Kaloleni and Rabai Sub Counties.
Ms. Leah Okoto, a mother of one-year-old twins who hail from Vitengeni in Ganze Sub County said that the early ultrasound test saved her life after one of the unborn babies was found not to be well positioned in the womb hence causing her health complications.
“When I was two months pregnant I underwent the ultrasound procedure after developing some discomfort and I was immediately told that I was carrying twins, a thing I had no idea of. In the sixth month of my pregnancy I underwent another test which indicated that one of my unborn babies was sitting in the womb and it is from there that I was put under the care of specialists,” she said.
She added that in the eighth month of her pregnancy, she was recommended for a caesarian section surgery to avoid complications during birth.
“Before this program, we used to suffer since mothers had to travel to the big general hospitals for services, and also due to poverty many lost their lives on the way. I encourage women to visit clinics for ultrasound tests to enable them to know their pregnancy development,” she said.
The Mimba Yangu project manager Lucy Nyagah said that the programme was currently being funded by the Phillips Foundation and implemented by Aga Khan University and the Kilifi County government.
“The Community has benefitted from the programming e, areas like Ganze, women are now getting the services instead of traveling to Mariakani and Kilifi to get them. Women are now embracing giving birth in health facilities compared to previous years,” she said.
By Treeza Auma and Harrison Yeri