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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In Kenya, Advocating for Safe Motherhood

Mother of eight works for change

Susie was born in the West Pokot district of Kenya.  At a young age, she was trained by her mother, a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA), in childbirth delivery.  In this part of the country, where access to health care is limited, maternal and neonatal health care is an urgent health need.  Though Susie has only a basic education, she is a mother of eight and has grown up witnessing first hand the dangers of childbirth.  After her mother’s death, Susie decided to follow in her footsteps and become a TBA, trained by a health care facility on how to conduct a safe delivery.  As a TBA, Susie has performed deliveries and provided post-natal assistance for many women in her village.        

Susie learned about the dangers of childbirth without proper medical care through HealthRight International’s Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health.  This program, with the help of women like Susie, has contributed to the reduction of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality by increasing the utilization and quality of facility- and community-based Maternal and Newborn Care services.  Having been taught the benefits of delivery at a health care facility, Susie’s role as a TBA has changed.  

Susie has acted as a bridge between the community and the formal health care system.  Though Susie still cares for pregnant women who go to her for medical attention, she now refers them to the Kabichich Health Center for screening and deliveries.  In order to maintain her status as a TBA and to ensure safe deliveries for her patients, Susie accompanies women in labor to the health care facility. 

With the support of local women like Susie, HealthRight’s Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health project has provided financial support to the Kibichich Health Center for renovations to the maternity ward.  Susie was present when the new maternity ward opened its doors to women in the community.

 “Now women can experience warmth, privacy and comfort when they come to the health center to give birth,” Susie says.