Million of women benefit as Linda Mama turns 10

Some of the beneficiaries share their experiences during the International Women’s Day

In Summary

•“I am very happy because Linda Mama paid for Sh16,000, which I incurred after a caesarean section. After delivery, I developed complications and had to undergo two surgeries. All of these were paid in full by NHIF through my Linda mama membership."

•NHIF says so far, 65-70 per cent of deliveries in Kenya take place through Linda Mama, with over 1.1 million mothers registering for the programme each year.

Breastfeeding mothers at Pumwani Hospital during past celebrations.
COVERED: Breastfeeding mothers at Pumwani Hospital during past celebrations.
Image: File

Maternal and Child Health has remained a high priority for the government with the introduction of free maternity services by President Uhuru Kenyatta in June 2013.  

The programme aims to increase access to skilled delivery services and hence the reduction of maternal and infant mortality.

According to the National Health Insurance Fund, which administers the free maternity programme, known as Linda Mama, thousands of women have benefitted since it was launched.

As the country joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Women’s Day, some of these women share their stories.

Elizabeth Maina (not her real name) is a married 35-year-old mother of two children. When she was expecting her last child in 2021, she worried about how she would afford care in hospital during delivery.

“My friends informed me that the government was paying for mothers to access maternity services for free in government hospitals and even some private hospitals. They said Linda Mama programme would cater for the antenatal clinics visits, delivery and postnatal clinic visits. I was skeptical because it sounded too good to be true. However, I decided to try,” she explains.

On visiting the clinic near her home, she was informed that indeed Linda Mama programme was available for all mothers regardless of their background. Upon confirmation of her pregnancy, she was registered at the hospital and issued with a Linda Mama Membership number.

“I am very happy because Linda Mama paid for Sh16,000, which I incurred after a caesarean section. After delivery, I developed complications and had to undergo two surgeries. All of these were paid in full by NHIF through my Linda mama membership.

“I was very worried about the bills incurred but the nurses assured me that the cover would take care of all of it. Today I can testify that my baby and I are very happy and healthy thanks to Linda Mama programme,” adds Elizabeth.

Mothers at the Pumwani Maternity ward. They are covered by Linda Mama.
BENEFITS: Mothers at the Pumwani Maternity ward. They are covered by Linda Mama.
Image: FILE:

Anita Achieng’ (not her real name) is another beneficiary of Linda Mama Cover. She is a 26-year-old student at a local university, studying Engineering.

“I heard about Linda Mama Program from my mom who is a nurse. She told me to visit the clinic to register as a Linda Mama member and start antenatal visits. I delivered through a caesarean section. The entire bill was settled by NHIF. My baby fell sick a few two months later, I took her to the hospital and was treated. I did not pay a single cent because the Linda Mama programme covers mothers and newborns up to three months after delivery. The Linda mama cover settled the bill once again. We are both healthy and baby is healthy and strong,” she said.

The overall objective of this programme is to increase access to skilled delivery services through the abolishment of user fees in all government facilities, hence the reduction of the maternal and infant mortality.

The Linda Mama Programme is administered by NHIF and has an annual budgetary allocation from the National Treasury.

 So far, 65-70 per cent of deliveries in Kenya take place through Linda Mama with over 1.1 million mothers registering for the programme each year, NHIF says.

 Each mother is covered for a period of 12 months after confirmation of pregnancy and is entitled to four antenatal visits, skilled delivery (normal or caesarean section), four post-natal visits, treatment and management of complications arising from pregnancy.

 The cover is activated by the preferred healthcare provider upon confirmation of pregnancy and is valid for 12 months.