KENYA – M-Pesa Foundation and AMREF Health Africa have partnered with the county government of Homa Bay to provide essential services to expectant mothers and their families.

Homa Bay County residents will benefit from a fully equipped new maternal and newborn healthcare unit at Ndhiwa sub-county.

The project was part of a program dubbed Uzazi Salama that aimed at improving access to quality healthcare for women and children under the age of five years in Ndhiwa and Suba Sub Counties in a bid to reduce the mortality rate in these regions.

Speaking during the official unveiling of the unit in Ndhiwa, Governor Gladys Wanga said that expectant mothers who have had to undergo difficulties while giving birth will now be able to deliver with dignity.

“As we work to achieve a hundred per cent in the number of hospital-based deliveries at this new facility, we commit to partner with Safaricom and like-minded organizations to improve the quality of health for mothers and children in Homa Bay,” Wanga said.

“We will work to reduce maternal mortality over the next five years.”

M-Pesa Foundation executive trustee, Ms Patricia Ithau said the KSh36.9 million (US$0.3m) worth maternal unit aims to strengthen the capacity of the county to provide quality and affordable reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child healthcare services.

“Having identified Homa Bay as one of the counties facing high infant and maternal mortality rates, we constructed and equipped Ndhiwa maternity unit under the Uzazi Salama initiative,” Ithau said, adding that the foundation is looking forward to partnering with the county to reduce the numbers.

Meanwhile, at the Homa Bay county referral hospital, the Safaricom foundation has renovated the newborn unit, targeting an increase in the accommodation numbers from 10 to 35 babies.

“The collaboration with the county government of Homa Bay and AMREF Health Africa will ensure we reach as many residents as possible, especially in remote areas. We believe that no mother should lose their child or their life while delivering due to avoidable circumstances,” she said.

She further disclosed that they had implemented a telemedicine programme known as Daktari Smart that is providing specialist care in remote areas.

Deputy Governor, Hon. Joseph Oyugi Magwanga urged health administrators and the people of Ndhiwa sub-county to make good use of the facility.

“To assure our partners of sustainability and affordability, the county government will offer staffing besides continuous equipping of the facilities,” said Magwanga.

Ndhiwa Member of Parliament, Hon. Martin Owino appealed for stakeholders to partner in order to support community health workers who play a critical role in providing maternal care at the village level.

On his part, the Netherlands ambassador to Kenya, H.E Marten Brouwer, who was a guest partner expressed satisfaction with the support given to maternal healthcare.

“I want to underscore the good work done by Safaricom and its partners to reduce maternal and infant mortality in this region,” Marten said.

Other partners involved in the project include Pathfinder International, PharmAccess Africa, Action aid and Getrude’s children hospital.

Uzazi Salama is the second maternal health initiative the M-PESA Foundation has launched in Homabay County.

The foundation in partnership with Gertrude’s Children Hospital will later launch the regional Daktari Smart telemedicine program, at the Suba Sub-County Hospital, which is part of a larger telemedicine initiative that targets over 32,000 children in Homabay, Samburu, Baringo and Lamu Counties.

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