KENYA – Kenya has achieved a major milestone in the health sector under the Free Maternity Programme dubbed Linda Mama which offers free maternal and neonatal health services.
The National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) which administers the free maternity programme highlights that thousands of women have benefitted from the health service since it was launched 10 years ago.
President Uhuru Kenyatta introduced Linda Mama in June 2013 with an annual budgetary allocation from the National Treasury to enhance maternal and child healthcare which remains a high priority for the government.
The government has so far disbursed a cumulative sum of KES 11,651,431,063 (US$102m) for the Programme in an effort to address challenges of high maternal mortality.
Maternal morbidity relates to illness or death occurring during pregnancy, childbirth, within two months of the birth or termination of a pregnancy.
Maternal mortality remains high in Kenya at 488 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births indicating the country’s very slow progression in maternal health.
“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,” reports the health insurance.
Each mother is covered for a period of 12 months after confirmation of pregnancy and is entitled to four antenatal visits, skilled normal or caesarean section delivery, four post-natal visits, treatment and management of complications arising from pregnancy.
The Linda Mama programme caters for antenatal clinics visits, delivery and postnatal clinic visits which are available for all expectant mothers regardless of their background.
Upon confirmation of pregnancy, mothers are registered at the preferred health provider and issued with a Linda Mama Membership number which allows them to access maternity services for free.
The overall objective of Linda Mama 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.
Linda Mama also positions Kenya on the pathway of achieving Universal Health Coverage by providing a package of basic health services accessed by all in the targeted population on the basis of need and not ability to pay.
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