- Kenya's neonatal mortality is 21 deaths per 1,000 live births with an SDG target of reducing to less than 12 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2030.
- Amoth urged the national, county governments, and private entities to ensure they invest heavily in human resources to have adequate doctors, nurses, and clinicians to fully attend to mothers.
Acting Director General of Health Dr Patrick Amoth presided over World Prematurity Day on Friday in Makueni County.
World Prematurity Day is held on November 17th of every year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies.
Kenya's neonatal mortality is 21 deaths per 1,000 live births with an SDG target of reducing it to less than 12 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2030.
In his address, Amoth urged the national, county governments, and private entities to ensure they invest heavily in human resources to have adequate doctors, nurses, and clinicians to fully attend to mothers.
He cited the great role of Community Health Promoters in linking the grassroots people to the hospital.
"As a Country, we have taken a 360 turn on handling health matters by basically going back to basics and changing the narrative of our Doctors waiting for the patients at the hospitals. We are now dealing with patients right in the comfort of their homes," Amoth said.
"Science has shown that the majority of all neonatal cases can be prevented at the household level."
Stakeholders on Friday came together in Makueni to celebrate World Prematurity Day and deliberate on salvaging the situation.
Amoth said Universal Health Care will ensure great interventions are made to Primary healthcare.
"Our journey towards Universal health coverage is based on the Primary healthcare approach. We need to put a lot of emphasis on community-level connectivity," added Amoth.
Amoth said Makueni's neonatal mortality is 26 per 1000 live births.
Makueni First Lady Anita Mutula, who was crowned Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) champion, said she will lead advocacy activities.
Anita called on every stakeholder to ensure that everyone commits to actions that will have a big impact like emphasizing Kangaroo mother care.
Kangaroo mother care is a method of care for preterm infants that involves infants being carried, usually by the mother, with skin-to-skin contact
"Let us encourage our mothers to practice skin-to-skin contact of the mother and baby for between 8 to 12 hours in a day," she said.
Makueni County first introduced Kangaroo Mother Care in 2017 in two facilities; Makueni County Referral Hospital and Makindu Sub County Hospital.
The Department of Health has been able to capacity-build and train 25 healthcare workers which has increased the number of facilities practising Kangaroo mother care from 2 to 6.
These facilities include Makueni County Referal Hospital, Makindu Sub County Hospital, Sultan Hamud Sub County Hospital, Kibwezi Sub County Hospital, Mbooni Sub County Hospital, and Kilungu Sub County Hospital.
Data from the 6 hospitals offering Kangaroo mother care (KMC) services shows that 10,323 live births were recorded in the facility between January to December 2022 of which 1,003 (or 9.7 of all births )were preterm. 515 or 51.3% were managed through Kangaroo mother care.
Anita acknowledged the great role played by development partners whose efforts have been key in delivering the Government mandate of ensuring every citizen has access to the highest attainable standard of health.
Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jnr lauded the input of donors, health workers, doctors, and nurses who work day and night to ensure the health status of the people.
Mutula urged the Government to intervene and ensure that the cost of the equipment used in neonatal clinics is lowered to reduce cost.
"While I was a Senator, I only managed to buy four laundry machines for Kilungu and Mbooni neonatal unit which I felt was too expensive," said Mutula.
Health Executive Member Paul Musila said that there is a need to think beyond the purchase of drugs and drugs.
"Let's challenge ourselves and start manufacturing drugs that will be a game-changer to reduce the high cost of the drugs administered in our facilities. With that, we will have what it takes for the survival of our young ones," noted Musila.
Faith Nzioka, a mother to a premature baby who survived had all the joy to explain how her young one maneuvered at Makindu Sub County Hospital.
"I got my pregnancy in 2017, delivered at 6 months with my baby boy weighing 7 grams. I used the Kangaroo style and I now have a healthy son in grade 3," said Faith.
Faith encouraged mothers to listen keenly and follow Doctors' advice on the Kangaroo mother style and always maintain hygiene to care for young ones.
Partners present included the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund Country, United Agency for International Develop Mission, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Nutritional International County, Save the Children International, MCGL, Nest 370, PATH East Africa Hub, Kenya Paediatric Association and members from Academia among others.