Mothers in Angata Nanyukie benefit from baby packs under the Uzazi Salama project
Every day, Josephine Lemunen walks several kilometres to look for firewood. She trades the firewood for food stuff to help sustain her small family. “I have two children, and I leave both with my mother,” Josephine narrates. Each day, Josephine reminds her mother to give the youngest child milk and porridge, and to make sure that her older child has a balanced diet. “I learnt all these through my Community Health Volunteer (CHV) and have been able to implement it as I saw the benefits they bring,” Josephine narrates.
The 22-year-old mother of two delivered her first child at home. “Before I got married, I was told that Traditional Birth Attendants were the best people to help a woman deliver. The strongest of women, however, would deliver on their own,” she adds. Even though Josephine had heard about the dangers of delivering at home, she still felt that delivering at a hospital was too expensive, especially since she had to look for transport to the facility. “I live five kilometres from the facility, and that would cost me almost Ksh500 for one trip. This was money I did not have, so I decided to give birth at home,” she narrates.
During her second pregnancy, however, she was introduced to Amos Lenarumoi, the area CHV who told her about the transport voucher offered by Uzazi Salama. “I was excited to know that I could get the ambulance services I needed to deliver at the facility,” she states. One month after she was enrolled into the programme, Josephine went into labour.
“The process was seamless as I just called the CHV who came almost immediately with a doctor and an ambulance,” she confirms. The ambulance took her to the hospital and she was able to deliver safely. “After delivery, I was given a baby pack that had a baby shawl, baby oil, diapers, a toy and some baby clothes. At that time, I did not know what the diaper was for, but the CHV told me I should put it on the baby. The CHV went further and taught me how to put it on,” Josephine asserts.
To Josephine, the baby pack came at a convenient time as she did not have money to buy baby stuff. “I did not even have clothes for the baby and had decided to carry her in my t-shirt. The baby pack gave me the things I needed for my baby,” she explains. “I had never seen a diaper, so I was excited to show my friends how it works,” she adds.
Through a holistic approach, Josephine taught her fellow village mates how to use diapers. When she ran out, she improvised and used old rags. “However, the problem with the rags is that they leak and smell, unlike the diapers. If the diapers were to be sold in my village right now, I would comfortably buy them,” she explains.
To Josephine, the baby pack was a nice surprise but she would still give birth in a health facility even if she was not given the pack. “I do not want my children to die at birth, so I will always go for my ante-natal clinics and deliver at the facility,” she states.
Uzazi Salama is a partnership between Amref Health Africa and PharmAccess, funded by the Mpesa Foundation, which aims at reducing maternal and child death in Samburu County. Samburu County has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in Kenya. Through formation of Community Units, training of CHVs and safecare, the project has been able to improve the maternal and child health indicators of Samburu County, through attendance of antennal care, increased skilled deliveries and proper and full immunization among others.
Michelle Dibo – Communications, Amref Health Africa