Governor Susan Kihika’s Shift to Enhance High-Quality Maternal, and Neonatal Care in Nakuru Hospitals
Written by Ruth Magak
World Health Organization has previously reported an increasing trend in pre-term infant deliveries and deaths. Nakuru is no exception from the many counties and regions that have experienced this. However, H.E. Governor Susan Kihika took office in 2022 with a particular interest in helping build the capacity of more healthcare workers across the county to help reduce infant mortalities at all costs.
One of the primary interventions H.E. Governor Susan Kihika advocates for has been to maximize result-oriented approaches like the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), which is a cost-effective initial substitute, and medical practitioners are directly involved in providing and guiding mothers in caring for premature babies.
Through her support, the County’s Department of Health activated training of all midwives across all health facilities to ensure all healthcare workers were refreshed and had the required skills and capacity to handle pre-term babies at all levels of care. The fundamental goal for Governor Susan is to ensure that this approach will enhance the medical staff’s knowledge to reduce the infant mortality rate as a boost to maternal, and neonatal health.
Today, Gilgil Sub County Hospital takes pride in the remarkable improvement in its care for preterm babies since the introduction of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) a technique that has mothers carrying their infants with skin-to-skin contact, with the hope that they will gain weight and normally grow to maturity.
This technique was adapted from the Kangaroo animal’s style of caring for young ones by keeping them close to their body (in the pouch) until they have developed sufficiently to leave the mother’s pouch.
Gilgil Sub County Hospital is one of the high volume level 4 facilities in Nakuru having over 200 deliveries every month but operates with only two incubators. Previously, infant mortalities resulted from hospitals not being well equipped to handle the care of preterm babies due to the few incubators in low-income areas and understaffed neonatal staff or oftentimes inadequate skill to handle the same.
We meet Maureen Wanjiru, a 24-year-old mother of two, who recently got her second baby underweight at 700 grams in Gilgil Sub County Hospital.
Sitting on her bed talking to other mothers, Maureen holds her baby against her chest using the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) method the nurses showed her. Maureen shares a soft smile holding her baby as she knows her baby is doing well from all the great care provided by the medical staff at Gilgil Sub County Hospital.
“It can be tiring to carry a baby for more than eight hours with skin to skin, but I am glad that I did, my baby was smaller than a one-litre water bottle,” she says with tears of joy lingering in her eyes with awe at how she was given a chance to be with her baby.
“The nurses and doctors in Gilgil assisted me throughout the process of improving the babies’ condition. At first, I wanted them to put her in an incubator but I was convinced to do this because they were constantly available to assist and take care of me and my baby,” she said.
Today is two months since Moureen had her baby and we are proud to celebrate her journey as she narrates the quality of maternal care she got from Gilgil Sub County Hospital. Maureen remains a champion for young mothers and a testament to the quality of care provided by Nakuru County hospitals.
“We have seen a significant increase in infants developing with the care of their mothers,” says Esther Wangari, a midwife at Gilgil Sub County Hospital. Esther noted that the hospital has access to incubators for babies in dire situations, but once the infant has made some progress, they are handed over to the mother to begin the KMC method.
The success of the medical team having this high capacity has been through training driven through the Governor’s support with enhanced partnerships that have had a significant impact on the medical staff providing adequate quality health care services to mothers and children.