MATERNAL HEALTH CARE- BIRTHING UNIT
- Published: Sunday, 05 August 2018 19:51
Improving the well being of mothers, infants, and children is an important goal for the Ruben Centre Clinic as the well being of mothers and children determines the health of the next generation. Our clinic has continued to offer Maternal Neonatal Child Health and Nutrition services to mothers and children in the Slums of Mukuru.
This encompasses the health care dimensions of family planning,preconception, prenatal, and postnatal care in order to ensure a positive and fulfilling experience for mothers and their children. However, there was a gap in the MCH as we received over 100 women coming for antenatal care and hundreds of them for the post-natal care daily. Where did they deliver? Most women did not have a safe place for them to deliver as the nearest facility is far and they would need to travel for an hour. At night, the residents rely on boda boda (motorbikes) for transport, as matatus do not operate during wee hour of the night. There is very little confidence in the public hospitals because ‘babies are stolen and swapped.’
Most women in the slums of Mukuru, opt for various reasons, ( not for this article ) to do either home-based deliveries or those with the ability to seek out medical practitioners find themselves at the doors of illegal pharmacies often run by quacks and most often not well equipped to handle any emergencies that could occur during child bearing process.
On June 2nd 2018,The Ruben Centre Birthing unit was opened officially in a big ceremony that brought together scores of women from Mukuru coming to witness the beginning of the first birthing unit in Mukuru Kwa Reuben. The cheers and excitement on their faces told it all. It was a new beginning for them. Women started flocking in to register themselves with Linda mama program, which is an initiative that ensures women have access to quality delivery services for free. Under Linda Mama scheme, the birthing unit can obtain a rebate of $Aus 50.00 for every delivery of child whose mother has an I D card. Within the first month, the clinic had delivered 54 healthy babies, which was a clear indicator of the need existing in the community.
So, far the birthing unit has delivered 92 babies within a span of two months with two sets of twins (girls) being delivered also. How exciting? The nurses in the birthing unit have worked tirelessly to ensure that the women have the best experience. One woman had not had her health records checked and she did not even expect twins and she appeared in our birthing unit only prepared for one baby. The nurses had to find her clothes for the other girl. ( see photo) The twins were very healthy and alert hours after birth.
However, it has not been without challenges. The greatest challenge initially was lack of a standby ambulance to respond to emergencies that come with delivery. The government promised us an ambulance that never came and as we were waiting for that promise to materialize, we lost a newborn baby who was born at 27 weeks.
A mother turned up bleeding after she was involved in an accident at the market where she was accidentally knocked in her baby pump that prompted pre-mature labour and bleeding. Very quickly nurses decided they needed to refer her to hospital. After two hours and still no ambulance, they delivered a very premature baby of 27 weeks according to our ultra sound test.
Skilled nursing, greatly assisted by our latest volunteer Alison Slattery from Australia, got the baby breathing and into the rescusitaire. The nostrils were too small to take the ends of the oxygen tubes, so they delivered the oxygen through the mouth.
An ambulance was sought and it took over two hours to come and what a piece of junk it was. No siren or flashing lights, no oxygen, and filthy inside. Staff cleaned it up, loaded an oxygen cylinder into it and finally mother and a nurse. They managed to arrive at Kenyatta hospital and the wee baby was giving her all. However the next day we sadly heard the baby had died in the early hours of the day. (Probably when the nurse on duty woke up such is the poor record at this large public hospital.) Very sad indeed.
With the birthing unit operating 24 hours, there has been improved access to maternal health services for women even at night. Cases of home deliveries have reduced and women can easily access the birthing unit even during wee hours of the night. The services are free for women who are registered with Linda mama (Protect a woman) and NHIF cover. The process of getting NHIF accreditation for our clinic is still in progress and the birthing unit is yet to get compensation from the Linda mama program. Every day there is a promise,
The greatest challenge is ‘fake news ‘ from the government health authorities. They have no shame in promises that they have no intention of fulfilling. Clinical officer, nurses were promised but only one nurse has materialized.
We might go broke over this, but it will be happily broke as we know the importance of maternal health and human dignity for the women of the slum and we want them to know this is the 21st Century. ….. hot shower included.