Traditional Pokot birth attendant now urges mothers to give birth in hospital

, BARINGO, Kenya, Jul 10- She holds dearly a list of names of children that have been born under her care.

It dates back to 1989 when she started helping women have traditional births, a cause that has its better share of positivity and challenges.

She has seen bubbly children endure traditional birth, while others die minutes or hours after birth.

It is disheartening when both the mother and child pass on due to birth complications that can only be rectified by a skilled person.

It is a story of 78-year-old Christina Lumada who is now urging her clients in East Pokot, of Baringo County to get specialised services in hospitals since after all, the government is paying.

Lumada says the free maternity programme is “the best gift” the Jubilee Government gave women and more so those within marginalised areas like East Pokot.

“In the hospital, the doctor can easily know when a child has issues or deal with any complication unlike here at home,” she said during her interview with Capital FM News at her Chemulingot home.

Despite the free maternity programme, she says a few women continue to go to her house to get the services and “unless it is too late, I refer them to the hospital.”

There is nothing ‘hospital like’ in her compound except a mat which she uses to provide services and a shade provided by an indigenous tree in her compound.

Her appeal is for more sensitisation by the government to women, more so in arid and semi-arid areas where people don’t have the luxury of ‘fast’ information.

“Women need to go to hospital…” she may not have seen the four walls of a classroom, but that is her message.

– Free Heath Maternity –

At Baringo County Referral Hospital, more women continue to deliver without paying a single penny.

Beulah Kibet, 25, has just delivered her second born baby.

“All my babies have been born under the free health maternity programme. I delivered and walked out of the hospital without paying anything,” she told Capital FM News.

Kibet is aware of women who used to go to traditional birth attendants until the services were declared free.

“Some of my friends lost their children so I did not want to risk by going to a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) since the services are free,” 23-year-old Trizah Keitany also said while holding her baby born just a few hours before.

– Skilled Birth Statistics –

Statistics show Baringo County is doing well in terms of total numbers of women delivering under skilled care.

Baringo County Referral Hospital Medical Superintendent Stephen Kalya says following the free health programme, “We have seen increased satisfaction of our services with time. It has been of tremendous help for our clients that have been seeking services at this facility.”

He says there are no women being held at the facility because of failing to pay for maternity services, a trend that existed in the past.

The hospital, Kalya says has seen increased number of deliveries from 2,100 in 2013 to 2,450 by the end of the last year.

In the entire county, he said, skilled deliveries by health workers have improved from 19 pc to 49 pc.

READ: Machakos counts benefits of Jubilee free maternity programme

In Baringo Central, the numbers have moved from 30pc to 76 pc, “which is a drastic improvement.”

Before, he said the hospital used to receive women with complications after delivering through the help of traditional birth attendants.

“We still receive those cases, but the numbers have reduced,” he said.

This, he attributed to the programme, improved facilities, and road network.

Before the launch of the Free Maternity Care Programme, only 40 per cent of women were delivering in health facilities, a trend that has changed and the statistics are currently more than 70 per cent in the country.

By the end of 2016, there were more than 1.2 million women who delivered under skilled care in the country.

Maternal deaths and infant mortality rates have also dropped to 39 per cent in infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

Though the health sector has significantly improved, industrial actions due to salary disputes remain a major challenge.

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