Maternal Health in Kenya

Maternal campaign: Another Handout Scheme?

When the rising cases of maternal and child death began increasing in Kenya, the first lady, Margaret Kenyatta came to rescue of these mothers and children to save their lives. She ran a victory race which few mothers would probably distance themselves from. She stood for the right of that child to see his or her 5th birthday. This campaign is very well imprinted in women’s lives today and has certainly left an impact. Yes, the campaign will help the mother and child in proper delivery. Yes, Kenya needs proper delivery of children. But how about what this child eats? How about the mother’s nutrition?

Studies documented by the Lancet say that about 800,000 infants are bound to die before their 1st birthday because of poor nutrition. From wasting, to stunting to obesity the list is endless. You may wonder just why is an infant at risk of dying from what he or she eats? It is estimated that around 40% of women living in the rural areas do not know what to give their child once it is born. This data from the ministry of public health elevates the need to educate a mother on what to give their child before and after birth. A mother needs to also make sure that she takes in vitamin and mineral supplements as required for development of the baby. Iron and folic acid are the most important supplements for a prospective mother. Women who do not take these supplements risk their children’s life even without considering their delivery means.

The ministry of Health also indicates that about 40% of women do not breastfeed their children after giving birth to them. The infants are either given formula or cow’s milk for their survival. They end up obese or malnourished since the quantity of the milk given is either insufficient or too much. The infants end up with complications that result in their death.

According to World Health Organization, infants need to be breast fed for 6 months without being given anything else on the side. Water and other food items have to be avoided for 6 months if at all the maternal health campaign is to be of success. Infant formula on the other hand has to be offered to the child in restriction and according to doctor’s prescriptions.

Running for maternal health may therefore be a great cause but, sustaining the mother and child after successful delivery is what matters. Is this just any other handout campaign that does not pay attention to underlying issues. I say mothers should be taught more for them to know what it means to bring up a child.

Written by Nduta Wambura

Nduta Wambura is a certified Clinical Nutritionist and Public Health advocate

Website: http://www.ask-thenutritionist.com