Tutunze : Kakamega Initiative for Maternal and Neonatal Health

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

Kakamega County has embarked on an initiative named Tutunze Kakamega, aimed at addressing the alarming rates of maternal and neonatal mortality. Launched by Governor Fernandes Barasa in collaboration with Jacaranda Health Think-well organization, this initiative signals a crucial step towards enhancing healthcare for expectant mothers in the region.

The newly inaugurated maternity wing at Lumakanda Hospital is sign of commitment of Kakamega County to provide quality maternal services. Governor Fernandes Barasa emphasized the primary goal of the Tutunze Kakamega program: “This initiative aims to reduce maternal and neonatal death rates in the county.” The project involves expanding and equipping maternity and newborn units while also improving urgent and emergency referral systems.

“I have come here today to launch the new Tutunze Kakamega programme aimed at enhancing healthcare in Lugari,” said Governor Barasa. “This is the second Subcounty after Malava to benefit from this project, which is supposed to be launched across the county.”

The partnership with Jacaranda Health brings a technological edge to healthcare education for women with newborns. Through Jacaranda’s prompt SMS system, mothers will receive vital information, empowering them to make informed decisions about their health and that of their infants.

Governor Barasa expressed his dedication to extending the program across the county, with Matungu, Navakholo, and Butere Subcounties set to benefit in the next 15 months. This move comes as a response to the stark statistics revealing maternal and neonatal mortality rates of 316 per 100,000 live births and 19 per 1,000 live births as of 2014 in Kakamega County.

The Tutunze Kakamega initiative aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targeting a reduction to 70 per 100,000 live births and 12 per 1,000 live births within five years. Shockingly, only 37% of births in Kakamega County currently occur in facilities equipped to handle maternal emergencies.

Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera acknowledged the critical need for improved maternal services, thanking Governor Barasa and partners for upgrading the maternity wing in Lumakanda. “Please upgrade dispensaries to health facilities as promised so that they can cater for the growing number of patients,” urged MP Nabwera. “The issue of drugs also needs to be addressed because patients are still buying drugs despite them being sent to the facilities.”

County Executive Committee member in charge of health, Dr. Bernard Wesonga urged women in the constituency to use available facilities during childbirth to reduce mortality rates. This is despite 99% of women in Kakamega living within an hour of an advanced Level 4/5 facility.

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