In Kenya maternal and newborn mortality is high. Maternal mortality is frequently related to the high number of women who deliver without the benefit of a skilled birth attendant. In Kenya, about 40% of women deliver their baby without the assistance of someone who has been trained, and each year more than 5,000 women die in childbirth. In some high-risk rural regions up to 80% of women deliver without a skilled birth attendant, many of them delivering at home completely on their own. Newborn mortality has not shown much improvement over recent years and national statistics estimate there are 22 deaths /1000 live births. In rural regions mortality is substantially higher than the national average.
As a partner in implementing Kenya’s Community Health Strategic Plan, we aim to decrease neonatal and maternal morbidity and mortality by empowering volunteer Community Health Workers and health care professionals in the area of Maternal and Child Health.
In the context of a real life teaching and learning laboratory, and in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, we have developed culturally appropriate adaptations of evidenced-based interventions in maternal and child health. Currently, we are training volunteers (who live in a local rural setting with various levels of literacy) basic concepts about safe motherhood, delivery, and newborn care.
In order to facilitate the process we have an ongoing agenda to evaluate our programs as well as examining important contextual issues around message delivery and health care decision-making. We use a highly mentored approach with teaching methodologies appropriate to adult learners. We in the AIC Kijabe Maternal Newborn Community Health are also developing and testing how to measure the competence of trainees, the effectiveness of volunteers in delivering health messages, retention strategies, etc. We have training to assist in the continuing professional development of Public Health Officers, Nurses, and related community health professionals who are working in both the public and private sector.
The Maternal Newborn Community Health Project has an ongoing research agenda. We have presented data on the effectiveness of evidenced based adaptions we deliver to community health workers at both national and international forums. A member of our team works with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation as part of the Division of Community Health Interagency Coordinating Council and on the Technical Workgroup for Operational Research.
To read a full report on the Newborn Community Health Project at AIC Kijabe Hospital, please click on the following link: http://kijabehospital.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2016-Annual-Report-FN-1.17.pdf
To watch a presentation by Dr. Mary Adam, published by “Her Dignity Network Webinar,” on the topic of, “Reducing Maternal Mortality while Increasing Infant Survival: A Case Study from Kenya,” click here.
In August 2014, research conducted by the Maternal Newborn Community Health program was published in PLOS One. You can read this article here.
Our program includes outreach to multiple vulnerable groups, including pastoralists, refugees, and we plan to expand to informal settlements or communities in urban slums. In addition, we are exploring innovations that may assist the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in addressing the” how to” of making these maternal newborn health promotion interventions a reality all over Kenya. Our team includes members who are Master Trainers and Trainers of Trainers for the Community Health Worker material approved for training in Kenya. We are prepared to assist interested organizations in evaluating and disseminating effective interventions in Maternal and Child Health across Kenya.
- Simon Mbugua, KRNMCH Newborn Community Health Coordinator
- Mary B Adam, MD, MA, PhD