Better-equipped hospitals can mean life for women and children in Turkana

Speeches Shim

Thursday, June 30, 2016
Representatives from USAID and the Government of Kenya Ministry of Health examine donated medical equipment
Eric Onyiego/USAID

When giving birth, millions of women in Kenya come as close to meeting death as they do life.  Home deliveries, where traditional midwives are often ill-equipped to detect or manage emergencies in time, can easily turn tragic and are a major contributor to maternal and child deaths.

Devolution is changing this scenario for women in the far reaches of Kenya. 

Managing the needs of a rapidly growing population, the Turkana County Government is improving the services delivered at the Lodwar County Referral Hospital and the vast array of health centers strewn across one of the largest counties (by area) in Kenya.

Last month USAID helped to augment the efforts of the Turkana County Government by handing over medical equipment. It included fetoscopes, delivery kits and resuscitator kits that will help doctors, nurses, and midwives monitor pregnancies and manage health complications in mothers and newborns during and after delivery. This equipment will be distributed across the county to various health centers and hospitals.

“We recognize the health of women and children determines the trajectory of development in a country,” Deputy Mission Director Tina Dooley-Jones said at the handover event. “In 2015 ​we committed more than $43 million to improve the health of women, newborns and children, including the $1.8 million of equipment distributed across Kenya last December.” 

In addition USAID is helping to ensure good medical waste management practices and supported the construction of an incinerator at St. Patrick’s Dispensary which can manage the waste from over 10 hospitals and health centers in Lodwar.

Nationally, the mortality rate for children under the age of five has dropped by almost 30 percent — from 72 to 54 deaths per 1,000 live births. Now, 62 percent of births in Kenya are conducted by skilled providers, a marked increase from only 44 percent in 2009.