KENYA – The Meru County Government in Kenya has increased its annual budget allocation towards Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, and Child Healthcare services from KES 2 million (US$17,000) to KES 10 million (US$87,000) in the financial year 2022/2023.

The funds will help improve health infrastructure all around the county to increase access and better coverage of the available healthcare services as well as improve child healthcare services.

Meru County has also focused on intensive training and improving the medical skills of all county health workers in the field of maternal health care to further enhance the quality of service delivery.

The Chief Officer for Health Dr. James Kirimi said the county government aimed to improve antenatal healthcare services to the mothers to 100 percent from the current 85 percent that has been reported from the year 2021 to date.

First antenatal care visits for the expectant mothers stand at 85 percent and the fourth visit stands at 50 percent thus we are hoping to increase it to 100 percent as per the World Health Organization (WHO) requirement,” explained Dr. James Kirimi.

He urged expectant mothers to prioritize hospital delivery to avoid unforeseen circumstances that cannot be handled at home, noting that there have been 40 percent cases of obstructed delivery resulting from mothers not seeking medical assistance in time during labor.

He warned about the rise in the number of teenage pregnancies and abortions in Meru County while highlighting that 38 percent of hospital delivery are from teenagers, with 1800 cases of teenage abortion reported in 2021.

Dr. James Kirimi further advised teenagers who have already undergone abortion to seek post-abortion care that is offered across health facilities in the county.

In addition, Meru County has announced that citizens above 65 years in the County will receive free National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover that will be catered for by the County Government.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi disclosed that his Administration has already allocated KES 300 million for the NHIF program during the launch in Buuri Sub- County.

We have come up with this health programme for providing medical covers for the elderly because it is good for their healthcare needs since they are susceptible to seniority which comes with myriad of health challenges,” Kiraitu maintained.

The programme is expected to reduce the heavy burden on families due to high hospital bills to further promote well-being for all citizens since health is a basic requirement and a right for all.

Kiraitu Murungi added that the county has received KES1. 6 billion (US$14 million) from the National Government to improve Meru Level 5 Hospital and a Cancer Centre.

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