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  HOME PAGE 25/06/2021 12:11 
05.05.2021 15:42 News >> Kenya's Midwives Brave Neglect, Pandemic To Deliver

Kenya's Midwives Brave Neglect, Pandemic To Deliver

Despite providing effective care to mothers, babies during COVID 19 pandemic, midwives in Kenya feel neglected.

As the COVID-19 pandemic strains medical services in Kenya, many Kenyan women, especially in remote and rural areas, are opting for services from midwives instead of going to hospitals due to fear of contracting COVID-19.
As International Midwives' Day is celebrated on May 5 across the globe, Kenyan midwives say they feel neglected.
In Kenya's informal settlement of Kibera, not everyone can access medical care, especially since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic.
"When I was pregnant, I could not go to the hospital because of fear of contracting COVID-19. Besides, with my daily wages of around 300 Kenya shillings [roughly $3], I cannot afford medical care. I have to work and clean houses to get that money. I could not do it when I was pregnant," Ann Adhiambo, a mother of a 2-month old baby, told Anadolu Agency.
"That is why we always search for a Nyamruera (midwife in Luo language). They take care of us all through our pregnancy and help us deliver our babies. They ask for little because they love what they do. My Nyamruera is Helen Shamala."
Forgotten lot
A traditional untrained midwife who ordinarily helps women deliver their babies, Hellen Shamala, 59, has been a midwife for over 20 years.
"In my whole life I have never seen anything like this. We are now busier than ever. Every single day, I have to work even late into the night because people need care as they deal with labor pains which come at any time," Shamala said.
She lamented that everyone, including the government, has ignored them – a sentiment shared by many traditional midwives.
"When it comes to disbursement of COVID-19 protective clothing and gear, we have never been called. Most of us are just volunteers who liaise with hospitals who then link us up with expectant mothers. Now I don't even get calls from hospitals as my clients come to me directly," she added.
Infrastructural challenges
Despite Kenya's efforts to provide free maternal services to women across the country, expectant women have chosen to seek the services of midwives due to infrastructural challenges such as transport to and back from hospitals.
Jessica Kuya, a health records officer, says: "Expectant mothers are not reporting to hospitals. Every year we expect over 7,000 patients, but since COVID-19 we can't even reach half that number."
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospital, which used to deliver an average of 40 births a day, has reported its daily birth rate falling to around four deliveries a day.
Health officials have urged mothers to go to hospitals where they will find trained midwives to reduce complications that come with childbirth.
Impact of COVID-19
Esther Oketch from the Midwives Association of Kenya said that both traditional midwives and trained midwives feel neglected.
"There are many challenges during the COVID-19 period. The quality of services offered within the maternal, neonatal and child sector has been greatly affected.
"Midwives are very important in the health sector and we need more in our hospitals. We need to invest more to ensure that these people are not forgotten. Investing in midwives will prevent a lot of birth complications that sometimes lead to death," Oketch said.
Recognizing the role of midwives, Kenya's Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said: "They are the primary caregivers to millions of women and newborns before, during and after childbirth."
"As a government, we are delighted to celebrate the midwives in Kenya for their tireless commitment and professionalism in delivering safe, effective, respectful quality care to mothers and their babies," Kagwe added. -



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