Involving Community Health Stakeholders to Develop Maternal Health Solutions
Community based organizations (CBOs) have increasingly become effective in strengthening and promoting quality maternal and child health due to their participatory approach in identifying obstacles and implementing holistic interventions.
MAMA continually involves community and health stakeholders in Tiaty East, Baringo County, in its programs. Regular visits to the Catholic Mission in Tangulbei and the County Government hospital in Tiaty East are very resourceful to the team due to access to ongoing reports on maternal health issues in the region.
In one of MAMA team meetings with Brother Maxwell, a community health practioner working with the Tanglubei Mission Hospital, he narrated how most expectant women suffer from UTIs (urinary tract infections) due to improper hygiene and polygamous marital practices.
Limited access to health facilities for routine checkups and antenatal services makes it difficult to detect and treat UTIs early enough among the men and women in the (Tiaty East) community, exacerbating health complications during and after delivery.
Another major issue that increases the risk of maternal and child death during and after birth in the (Pokot) community is postpartum haemorrage or heavy bleeding, which is linked to female circumcision practiced by most pokot women. Giving birth outside of health clinics and without the help of a skilled and equipped birth attendant also increases the risk of postpartum haemorrhage and possible death of the mother, child or both.
During the 46th Annual Congress held by the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, the issue of travelling long distances to access maternal healthcare services was extensively discussed. The participants also raised concern over improper hygiene, malnutrition and treatment of UTI during and after pregnancy as issues that need immediate response to enhance maternal health in Kenya.
MAMA Wellness Resource Centre based in Orus, Tiaty East, will play a vital role in ensuring women access specialised maternal care they need. The Centre is strategically located to make it easy for the community to reach it without travelling a long distance to receive health services.
In collaboration and participation of the Orus Community in Baringo and other partners, MAMA plans to expand the health education program to enlighten women about proper hygiene, mental health and nutrition, especially during pregnancy and after delivery. Due to low literacy levels in Tiaty East, MAMA team intends to have all the health education materials translated to the Pokot language and enhanced with visual electronic material in picture format to enhance learning and comprehension.
Article by Euodia Ondisa, a Nutritionist and Projects Officer at MAMA