Improving Newborn and Maternal Health in Kenya
By Eric Kilongi | October 30, 2013
Recently, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) donated new labor and delivery equipment to health facilities throughout Homa Bay County in Kenya. The equipment will help pregnant mothers deliver their babies safely and reduce preventable newborn deaths. The delivery sets, which include new delivery beds, will enable health workers to provide a safer labor and delivery environment and better manage any complications that may arise before and after birth.
“To reach every HIV-positive pregnant woman with the services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV we must increase the number of women delivering at the health facilities, since the intervention is facility-based,” said Titus Syengo, EGPAF’s Kenya country director.
During the donation ceremony, western Kenya’s U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Regional Director Boaz Nyunja urged Homa Bay County Governor Cyprian Awiti, also in attendance, to consider strategies with a proven tangible impact such as voluntary medical male circumcision, prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, and antiretroviral therapy (ART).
With nearly 150,000 people living with HIV out of the population of 1 million people, Homa Bay is among the highest HIV-burden counties in Kenya, contributing to more than half of all new HIV/AIDS infections in the country.
Hailing recent efforts made by EGPAF in Homa Bay, Governor Cyprian said, “We are optimistic new HIV infections will continue to decline as more people learn of their HIV status and get enrolled in HIV care and treatment programs.”
Since 2010, EGPAF has partnered with CDC to support the Kenya Ministry of Health at 85 facilities in the region. The program has helped expand coverage for several vital health services such as PMTCT, child welfare clinics, HIV care and treatment services, and HIV diagnosis for infants. Since we began working in the region, coverage for these services has increased from a dismal 5 percent to more than 90 percent. In addition, skilled deliveries (delivering a child at a health facility) have increased from 40 percent to 69 percent.
During the donation ceremony, EGPAF also committed $500,000 to Homa Bay County to support 75 health care workers and reduce worker shortages in the region.
You can learn more about our work to eliminate pediatric HIV in Kenya here.
Eric Kilongi is a Senior Communications Officer at EGPAF, based in Nairobi, Kenya.