Number of women shunning hospital deliveries ‘still high’

Robin Obino and Irene Githinji @PeopleDailyKe

A large number of women in Kenya are still giving birth at home, a new report has shown. The study by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released yesterday, however, showed that there has been a significant increase in the number of women seeking the service in public hospitals, following the government’s introduction of free maternity.

Home deliveries were highest in North Eastern and Western followed by Rift Valley and then Coast regions according to the survey. The lowest home deliveries were recorded in Central, Nairobi and Nyanza.

On the other hand, the highest number of women seeking maternity services from public hospitals was registered in Central, followed by Nyanza and Nairobi. “Although most of the deliveries take place in public health facilities, still a large proportion of child deliveries take place at home,” reads the report. The infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births has drastically reduced over the years and so is maternal mortality ratio.

The KNBS report has also shown that men continue to dominate in majority sectors though their female counterparts are catching up at a faster rate. The report dubbed ‘Women and Men in Kenya’ shows that women in the country are underrepresented in decision-making positions, have less access to education at higher level, land and employment. However, the report indicated that the untapped potential of women and girls is gaining greater attention in the country with the Constitution marking a new beginning for their rights.

The report has shown that women provide 80 per cent of the country’s farm labour and manage 40 per cent of the country’s smallholder farms yet they own only roughly one per cent of agricultural land. They receive only 10 per cent of available credit.

“When Kenyan women get the freedom to reach their potential, all families and communities will grow stronger. Empowering women to exercise their rights is guaranteed by the Constitution. It is important to bring the perspectives of women and girls and their full participation to the frontline and men are important partners in this effort,” reads the report.

At the same time, preparations for the 2019 population and housing census, which will cost Sh18.5 billion has began in earnest. KNBS director general Zachary Mwangi has said piloting programme will be conducted in 30 counties between August 25 and July 1. The government has already partnered with Statics Sweden who have agreed to offer logistical support.

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