There has been enormous effort put into improving maternal newborn and child health in the past 10years and progress is becoming evident. According to the Kenya demographic health survey, 2014 the maternal, newborn and child health indicators have improved. Maternal mortality ratio declined from 488 to 362 deaths per 100,000 live births in 5 years; Newborn mortality rate also reduced from 31 to 22 deaths per 100,000 livebirths in 5 years. However, despite the progress, it is equally clear that more remains to be done as too many newborns, children, adolescents and women die of preventable conditions every year, and far too few have reliable access to quality health services.
The Government of Kenya has prioritized women’s children’s and adolescent health and has put in place policies and strategies in place to accelerate the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality.
Kenya introduced the free maternity services (FMS) policy directive on 1stJune 2013 in all government health facilities. The objective behind the implementation of FMS policy was to ensure increased and equitable access to and use of skilled maternal and child health services. The policy is pursued against the backdrop of existing inequities in accessibility and utilization of maternity services, and is premised on the notion that financial barriers are one of the most important constraints to equitable access and use of skilled maternal health care. At inception of the policy, the main service that was covered was skilled delivery at the health facility. Currently, this is being expanded to include antenatal care and post-natal care (up-to one year). In order to assure quality of services, Kenya is working with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to directly reimburse all the accredited facilities for services offered. This will also ensure that insured members can access maternal and child health services in both private and public health facilities to promote sustainability.
The2008/2009 and 2014 KDHS reports shows major improvements in maternal and child health indicators between 2004 and 2013.Within this period; the proportion of mothers receiving antenatal care from a skilled health provider increased from 92% to 96% and the percentage of health facility deliveries increased from 43% to 61%. Service statistics data has also shown an increase in facility deliveries from 43.5% in 2011 to 56.8% in 2015 with the highest increase seen in 2013 and 2014 (after the introduction of FMS). There is also continued decline in the total fertility rate (TFR); Fertility decreased from 4.6 to 3.9 births per woman. This is corroborated by the marked increase in the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) from 46% to 58%. The decline in fertility is followed by a marked decline in infant and child mortality. All early childhood mortality rates declined between the 2008/2009 and 2014 KDHS surveys. Total under-5mortality declined from 74 deaths per 1,000 live births 52 deaths per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality ratio declined from 488 to 362 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
Other strategies aimed at improving maternal and child health indicators in the country include the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta’s ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ launched on the 24 January 2013 in Kenya. The initiative is aimed at accelerating access to maternal and child health services and the implementation of the national plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children. All the 47 counties have been provided with the Beyond Zero clinics. The beyond zero strategy also serves as an advocacy platform for maternal neonatal health services as county government buys in and commits to support the services. Services offered include in these clinics include: Antenatal care, Post-natal care, Family planning services, growth monitoring, and delivery services among others. Moreover, the Government has also brought forward legal framework to improve maternal and newborn health such as the Reproductive health bill and the Maternal newborn and child health bill.