Lamu county women representative Ruweida Obo has launched an eight bed maternal health kiosk in Lamu’s King Fahd Hospital that will aid in reducing the high mortality rates among pregnant women in the county.
One in ten women in Lamu is at risk of dying due to complications developed while being ferried to Lamu Archipelago, where the main referral hospital-King Fahd is based from the far flung islands.
They are usually ferried by ill equipped boats mainly due to the unavailability of 24 hour functioning medical boat ambulance in the county.
The facility will provide a haven for the women who are almost due and usually based in the far flung smaller islands of Ndau, Kizingitini, Kiwayu and Pate to relax as they wait their delivery date.
In the facility an expectant mother will not be required to pay for the duration of their stay until they deliver.
Speaking during the launch of the Sh5 million facility Friday evening, Ms. Obo stated that the initiative had been informed by large number of maternal deaths that still take place in Lamu despite advancement in medical care.
She regretted that women were still at risk despite there being a proper health facility with specialized doctors who could handle any medical challenge.
“This maternal health kiosk is but a first step to provide shelter for women, who are based in the smaller islands and risk travelling by boat, whose ride is never a guarantee that they will give birth safely, once they reach the main referral hospital,” Obo said.
The women rep added that the shelter will provide expectant mothers with accommodation before their delivery date to prevent mortality while travelling long distances via boats.
Meanwhile, there are plans to initiate three other similar facilities at Kizingitini, Mokowe and Witu to help reduce maternal deaths in the county.
The facility has already been handed over to the county government since they are the ones with the staff who can effectively manage it.
On her part, the county executive for health Dr. Ann Gathoni said the facility will greatly enhance efforts to provide firsthand maternal healthcare that will greatly save lives.
“The no cost facility will also make mothers who would have otherwise opted to deliver at home enjoy medics assisted deliveries,” Dr. Gathoni stated.
Lamu County Speaker, Abdu Kassim who was also present during the launch of the facility said that such initiatives were noble and would otherwise have been rendered a nonstarter if counties approved the Punguza Mizigo Bill.
“We have to appreciate the role that women representatives play in the county with regards to ensuring gender affairs, and especially initiatives that look into the affairs of our mothers and sisters who have suffered from lack of fair representation both in the national and county levels,” Kassim stated.
The chief guest during the occasion, National Speaker Justin Muturi stated that the facility was not only a great innovative but also a milestone achievement from the modest National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) awarded to women Reps countrywide.
“We have to laud the initiative that has been achieved with very little funds, yet it is a step forward in ensuring the tax payer is served well,” Muturi said.
The Speaker said that the fund for the women representatives’ kitty has proved to be a resource that the counties were benefiting from.
He further promised to provide each of the first 20 mothers who make use of the facility with Sh5, 000 that they can use to nurture their children.
Lamu County Commissioner Samson Macharia, also lauded the initiative, stating that it was long overdue and will aid in improving maternal health care in the region.
Macharia also urged mothers to make use of the facility especially those from far flung areas such as Barsuba where medical care is not close for expectant mothers.
By Amenya Ochieng