UN plans to embark on a 40 million U.S. dollar programme to end preventable maternal deaths and improve child health in Kenya, officials said on Thursday.
Bashir Issak, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Programme Coordinator in Kenya, told a news conference in Nairobi that the phase two of the UN joint programme on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health will be implemented jointly by six UN agencies.
“The programme will target six counties in Kenya which account for the bulk of maternal deaths,” Issak said.
The six counties are Mandera, Migori, Lamu, Wajir, Isiolo and Marsabit which have a maternal mortality rate of between 700 per 100,000 live births to 3,975 per 100,000 live births against the Kenya average of 362 per 100,000 live births.
Issak said the overall objective of the program is bring down the level of maternal deaths of the six high burden counties to within Kenya’s average in the next four years.
The UN agencies involved in the program include the Joint UN Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAIDS), World Bank, UNFPA, UNICEF, World Health Organisation, UN Women.
Issak said enhanced maternal health will be achieved through capacity building of county governments to ensure that every health facility can safely deliver a healthy baby.
The UN will contribute 20 million dollars, while the Danish government will contribute another six million dollars for the programme.
The rest will be source from other donors.
Phase one of the programme which ended in 2016 cost 15 million dollars.
The UN official noted that most of the six counties are lagging behind the rest of Kenya in terms of maternal health due to years of under-investment by previous governments.
“As a result, their social sectors such as health and education have performed poorly as compared to other counties of Kenya,” Issak said.
He added that maternal and child health contributes to 80 percent of primary health needs in the country.