Government of Kenya and partners announce an innovative program to improve mother and newborn health

kenya-mnch-event“Linda Afya ya Mama na Mtoto” will save and improve the lives of pregnant women and newborn babies.

KENYA – The Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation joined with partners today to announce a new project to support improving access to maternal and neonatal care.

The Linda Afya ya Mama na Mtoto project will provide improved services earlier in and throughout a woman’s pregnancy, with a particular focus on nutrition.

Building on the government’s firm commitment to ensure that more Kenyan mothers and children have access to the care they need to survive and thrive, the program will focus on three key objectives:

  • increase the number of pregnant women seeking antenatal care and deliveries in health facilities;
  • improve the quality of delivery, emergency obstetric and postnatal care; and
  • improve the nutritional status of pregnant women and their newborn babies.

By increasing demand for maternal services and improving the quality of service delivery, the initiative aims to decrease maternal and neonatal mortality rates and improve the health and nutrition of pregnant women and their newborns.

The current mortality rate is 488 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, still far from the Kenyan Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 147 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Working with partners that include the Micronutrient Initiative, African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF), PRONTO International, and with financial support from the Government of Canada, Linda Afya ya Mama na Mtoto will be implemented in Kakamega Central, Mumias and Matungu districts of Kakamega County in Western Province, with the aim of reaching 29,000 women and their newborns.

The University of Nairobi will undertake an extensive evaluation over the life of the project so that obstacles and challenges can be identified, addressed and corrected and lessons can be used to make decisions about adopting the model in Kenya and beyond.

The project is in line with the Government’s commitment to scaling up high-impact interventions to reach global and national development goals. It also supports Kenya’s commitment to the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement.

“Efforts to secure and improve the health of Kenya’s women and children are an investment in the health of Kenya itself. This initiative supports that goal,” said Dr. Shenaz Sharif, Director of Public Health and Sanitation. “Improving utilization and quality of services within her community will improve a woman’s health during a critical time in her life. Also, our focus will be on strengthening the knowledge and skills of our community health workers and traditional birth attendants to build community capacity and ensure women receive more highly skilled care throughout pregnancy.”

Women will be brought into quality antenatal care earlier in pregnancy. In addition to improving the identification and management of obstetric and neonatal emergencies and standard antenatal care services, the project will strengthen essential nutrition actions to improve the lives of women and their newborns. These include use of iron and folic acid supplements; delayed cord-clamping at birth that will provide additional iron to her newborn; and support for immediate and exclusive breastfeeding.

The Government of Canada, through the Muskoka Initiative, is providing support for this four-year project. Linda Afya ya Mama na Mtoto is recognized as a high-impact solution that supports Canada’s commitment to improving maternal and child health.

“The Micronutrient Initiative is proud of our long collaboration with the Government of Kenya, which has resulted in impressive impact, especially for Kenya’s mothers and children. This project furthers this partnership and will have lasting results,” said Venkatesh Mannar, President of the Micronutrient Initiative. “We are grateful to the Government of Canada for providing the financial support that makes this exciting initiative possible. This project is in line with the vision and leadership demonstrated by the Prime Minister of Canada when he launched Canada’s 2010 G8 Muskoka Initiative to save the lives of mothers and children.”

Working together, the Linda Afya ya Mama na Mtoto partners aim to have the project become a model that can be implemented throughout Kenya, and provide valuable evidence-based alternatives for consideration in neighbouring countries and around the world.