Midwives follow proceedings during the 21st Midwives Annual Scientific Conference at the Reef Hotel in Mombasa on November 8, 2015. Midwives follow proceedings during the 21st Midwives Annual Scientific Conference at the Reef Hotel in Mombasa on November 8, 2015. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP
13 December

Let’s raise voices over maternal deaths

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Who would have thought that in 2017, countries would be gathering to seek solutions on maternal health? Who would have thought that a man would still be dictating his wife’s choice of contraception? Who would have thought we would still have hundreds of girls whose sex inception was not by choice, but by forced marriage or cultural fiat?

Who would have thought that women would still be dying  bringing forth life? More and more questions on maternal health went through my mind as I sat in sessions and attended side events during the 2017 United Nations General Assembly-UNGA in New York.

As a global maternal health champion and communication volunteer for the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA), a global organisation advocating reproductive, maternal, newborn and adolescent health, I was keen on maternal and newborn health, the right to health, adolescent and reproductive health, and gender equality.

Every year, representatives from member states and relevant bodies gather at the UN to make decisions on development.


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how countries are striving to beat the target and achieve the goals by 2030 topped the list of issues discussed this year. As a youth representative from White Ribbon Alliance Kenya, I was at sessions on SDG  3 and 4--Health and Well-Being and Gender Equality, respectively.

Coming from a country where 362 women in 100,000 still die due to maternal health complications, where a majority of girls never reach their full potential due to forced marriages and cultural practices, and where thousands of women still have no access to family planning, this was an opportunity to learn and bring some lessons home.

WRA Kenya seeks to amplify the voices of people suffering from the greatest burden of morbidity and mortality due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. As a champion, I mobilise and hold citizen hearings to empower citizens to demand quality care for all pregnant women.


Kenya has made some progress, but still has some of the worst outcomes for maternal and child health in Africa and the world.

Women are still dying giving life and children are not surviving to experience the joy of childhood beyond their fifth birthday.

In 2015, 362 women died out of 100,000 livebirths. Kenya ranked 51st among 75 countries where 95 per cent of all maternal and child deaths occur globally.

The government in 2013 introduced free maternity in public health centres.

WRA Kenya is leading a campaign to empower citizens to understand their rights, and voice their demands on the right to health.


The Constitution guarantees every Kenyan a right to economic and social rights (health, housing, food, water, social security and education). But is this the case?

Women on Pate Island, the largest on the Lamu archipelago, travel by boat for more than four hours to get to Lamu District Hospital for a Caesarean section.

 In Lokichar, public health centres are far away. An expectant mother walks day and night to access them and yet they lack even the basic equipment to guarantee safe delivery. Many mothers and infants die due to lack of proper health care.

Citizen-led campaigns in India, Nigeria, Uganda and Bangladesh have pushed governments to provide maternal and newborn health services.

If we fought for mothers and children as passionately as we fight for political rights, if the leaders demonstrated in the streets demanding that no woman should die giving birth, we would see more safe births.

 -- http://www.nation.co.ke --

Read 585 times Last modified on Friday, 15 December 2017 03:24
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