The delivery of free maternity care services in Kenya is being hampered by inadequate personnel and poor working conditions, says a study that was launched in Nairobi on Tuesday.

The study titled “the impact of government-supported maternal health programs on maternal health outcomes in Kenya” conducted by Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA), a regional research firm, urges the government to motivate employees in the public health sector through improved perks.

“The current situation makes the provision of services difficult and compromising quality,” says the study.

The study that was conducted to find out effects of free maternity services in addressing the runaway maternal mortality in various health facilities in Nairobi, Kilifi in coastal region and Migori in Western Kenya, says the uptake of the free maternity services by the government may ground to a halt due to understaffing.

Dr. Rhoune Ochako, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi said the number of women seeking free maternity services in public health facilities had declined due to poor quality of service rendered by midwives.

“Funding, personnel, facilitation and the general infrastructure need to be revised for sustainability and quality provision of services,” said Dr. Ochako.

She said that the provision of maternity services has been lauded as a timely undertaking and most of those utilizing the services have praised the initiative but this good-intentioned move is likely to fail. In most health facilities pregnant women were reported to have died due to lack of attention as the number of health workers are fewer.

“Even though health sector is devolved and is being managed by the county governments, there is an urgent need for the national government and county government to work together in equipping and employing additional personnel,” said Dr. Ochako.

Aggrey Aluso, program manager for health and rights at OSIEA called for a commitment to timely funding health facilities.

“Health facilities in remote areas require simple investments to offer better services to majority of populations who do not have health insurance,” said Aluso.

He said that 80 percent of populations lack health medical insurance and often return home unattended due to lack of money.

Aluso urged the government to ensure that services such as the provision of blood banks are established in all health facilities countrywide.

He said that since health care was devolved, there have been tremendous improvements in the constructions of facilities within the health facilities but, unfortunately, some county officials have taken advantage of devolution and invested things that do not enhance value.

The study says that various facilities visited were unable to offer quality services because they lacked supplies and are overstretched. Enditem

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