Shocking: 15 most dangerous counties women die giving birth in Kenya

20 Apr 2015 | by
Shocking: 15 most dangerous counties women die giving birth in Kenya

Kenya is not at war yet the number of pregnant women who die is higher than that of a war torn country like Eritrea.

The chances of dying in 15 of the 47 counties if one is pregnant is at 1:22 as opposed to 1:8000 in other parts of the world.

The Gazette weekly has established that there are 15 counties where women are likely to die while giving birth. These counties have been unable to stop the four leading causes of death of pregnant mothers.

More than 70% of all maternal deaths in Kenya are due to just four conditions haemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis and abortion complications.

The Ministry of Devolution and Planning through National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) in collaboration with UNFPA planned for a high-level forum to sensitize the Members of The National Assembly and the Senate from the 15 high burden counties on high impact interventions that can reduce, and ultimately end, preventable maternal deaths.

It was noted that Kenya had fallen short of achieving Millennium Development goal number 5 which deals with the reduction of maternal mortality yet 2015 is around corner.

Providing all women with the required maternal health medicines and supplies would prevent an additional 2800 deaths reducing the annual number of deaths to about 1460 and the maternal mortality rate to approximately 124, just short of Kenya’s MDG goal of 100.

There are wide regional disparities in maternal mortality within the country, with maternal deaths representing about 15 % of

all deaths of women aged 15-49 years, which translates to an estimated 6000 to 8,000 pregnant women dying every year.

The disparities in maternal mortality between counties are

considerable, where the county with highest maternal mortality ratio has 20 times the deaths of that with the lowest. The fifteen counties with the highest number of maternal deaths and highest maternal mortality ratio contribute over 98% of the national total, and include the following counties: Mandera, Turkana, Wajir, Nairobi, Migori, Nakuru, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Marsabit, Lamu, Garissa, Taita-Taveta, and Isiolo.

The causes of maternal mortality in Kenya, like in most parts of the

world are hemorrhage, complications from hypertensive disease in

pregnancy, sepsis and abortion complications. HIV related deaths

(20%) comprise the largest proportion among the indirect causes. It is apparent that some of these counties also have some of the

highest HIV prevalence in the country, for example, HomaBay has

an HIV prevalence of 27%. The high maternal mortality

ratio is due to low utilization of skilled care, with only 47 per cent of expectant mothers completing the recommended 4 antenatal care visits and 44 per cent receiving skilled care at delivery, while

caesarean section rate is 6.2% against the recommended rate of 7

– 15%. The national maternal health roadmap to accelerate attainment of MDG 5 puts the target for skilled birth attendance at 90% by 2015.

There is low coverage for basic emergency obstetric care at 9% while the comprehensive care is much lower at only 7%. The

contraceptive prevalence rate (46%) has remained low; while the unmet need for family planning is still high at 26%. This is of great concern in a country with a very youthful


Other factors contributing to the high maternal mortality are shortage of health workers, inadequate health care provider skills and harmful socio-cultural practices.

Various strategies have been put in place by the Government through the Ministry of Health in an attempt to reduce the high maternal mortality. Most of these interventions have been generalized across regions yet each region has unique

characteristics. This has been further compounded by the limited resources allocated towards maternal and reproductive health,

which are then spread thinly across the country in the course of

implementation and scale-up of interventions.

Recent case studies have demonstrated that great political leadership can dramatically influence the impact of health interventions that contribute to reduction of maternal mortality

among other health outcomes, whilst strengthening health

systems. Leadership of parliament is important in order to mobilize resources and coordinate other sectors that contribute directly or indirectly to the maternal health outcomes. Members of parliament and Senators present shared their frustrations of how they loose their citizen.

Dr. Mohammed Kuti , the Isiolo County Senator said that women in his constituency labour for 5 to six days due to transport challenges.

“ Matatus might come three times a week but labour pains have no schedule. By the time the woman gets transport the road itself is treacherous and she might get to hospital dead or having lost the baby and her uterus is irreparable” Senator Bonny Khalwale whose county, Kakamega, falls under those that one could easily die faulted the National assembly and the executive for not allocating the Abuja declaration commitment of 15% of the GDP going towards health care.

“ At the moment counties do not have enough money and therefore are challenged on what to allocate for health because of the many needs that the counties have” Kenya is a signatory to the Abuja declaration that requires all governments in Africa to set aside 15% of its budgetary allocation to health care so that issues like maternal deaths can be averted.

Recently the Mandera county government rehabilitate Tabika

District Hospital to be able to provide theatre services including

caesarean sections to save the lives of mothers.

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