The National Gender and Equality Commission plans to conduct an assessment of the free maternity program in public health facilities in order to explore its responsiveness to issues of equity, inclusiveness and access to services by the special interest groups.
During a breakfast meeting at Crowne Plaza hotel, NGEC Chairperson Winfred Lichuma called on the government to increase budgetary allocation to the program to enhance quality of maternity services and ensure accessibility to all women.
“In times of emergency, if services are not provided in time, it is evident that death may occur,” said Lichuma.
Although the program has contributed to high numbers of deliveries in health facilities, there are some challenges facing its successful implementation. These include poor infrastructure, inadequate health personnel and lack of standardized supervisory and oversight structures.
Lichuma called on communities practicing cultural practices that hinder women from accessing maternal services in hospitals to abandon such practices as they lead to maternal deaths.
Speaking during the meeting, the Busia County Member of Parliament Hon. Florence Mutua lauded the health workers in her county for providing high quality maternal services to the women in her county. She called on the government to increase staff, equipment and ambulance services to improve maternity service provision.
“I remember the case of a mother who delivered pre-term triplets and needed to be placed in incubators but there were only two, and a choice had to be made to place two of the healthy ones in the incubators. I wonder if the third one survived,” said Mutua.
NGEC to assess free maternity program