Health for all – A Casa Materna in Kenya?! That’s right…
Posted: September 19, 2018
Everyone has a right to basic health. In Guatemala, the Casa Materna Program has reached hundreds of thousands of people. Thanks to a partnership with the Kenya Ministry of Health, Ronald McDonald House Charities® and Curamericas Guatemala, we will continue to reach women and children in Kenya. While the building will not be called a Casa Materna in Kenya, rather a Community Birth Centre, the key tenets of the program are the same. Our aim is to serve thousands of families, save lives and test the model in a new environment.
Many ask why Kenya? Well, Curamericas Global chooses where we work carefully. The first step is a screening process. We ensure there is a need for our work, there is a partner who is committed to our values and there is a path to sustainability. Our partner in Kenya is the Ministry of Health itself. They are providing significant support to the project and share our commitment to health for all people. They also want data to inform their work. Who could be better to sustain a project than the ministry of health?
This partnership started over three years ago. We slowly explored options and got to know each other. Then, a year ago, the new program took off! In the spring, our Project Director, Kevin Kayando, traveled with our experts to Guatemala. He saw first hand HOW we make an impact and took important lessons with him back to Kenya. One lesson he took was the importance of showing data to the community via graphs and tables. This updated data shows the successes and the needs. The community themselves see what is happening and own their health data.
The Need: How is the health of the families?
Many people thought there was not much need in these areas. At the same time, health authorities acknowledge incomplete data and consistent under-reporting. But after our comprehensive data collection, we see an astounding death rate among women and infants. Baseline results show incredibly high rates of death. The rate is over 3x higher than what was thought and 60 times higher than here in the US. Baby and children are also dying unnecessarily. With all of this new and accurate data, our partners, the government are now wondering if the death rates are this bad in our first pilot community, then how bad are they in the next places we plan to go? According to our expert, Barbara Muffoletto: “It was a real eye-opener [to see the data]. Now instead of planning a program to address moderately-high maternal mortality rates of around 500, which is what we expected to find, we are looking at a much more dire situation. The census showed us that the maternal mortality in our project area is around 1,500, a rate comparable to countries with incredibly high maternal mortality rates like Sierra Leone.”
The Plan: Data-driven decision making
The staff and communities themselves chose the project name. They chose the name KIKOP. This name is an acronym in Swahili, that means: “Taking care of our mothers by helping them deliver their babies safely.”
After solidifying our partnership, the next step is understanding the needs. Our project has already engaged in training, data collection and partnership development, along with direct service helping women deliver safely. We are actively collecting census data, working with the communities to drive engagement and ownership. Our goal is a sustainable program.
We are piloting an electronic data capture system for CBIO. Having a digital household census allows us to quickly analyze data and capitalize on emerging health trends. We plan to transfer this system back to Guatemala and other project sites around the world. The exchange is two-way, Guatemalan programs showing the success of the Casa Materna and the Kenyan team leading the charge of quick and high-quality data capture through more than just pen and paper. What a radical growth when just a few years ago, many homes did not have electricity.
Another very exciting development is the strengthening of our partnership. In May 2019, the Kenyan Ministry of Health plans to attend our Guatemalan Stakeholder meeting (and help pay their own costs). This important meeting will include people from around the world and allow our Kenyan partners to see first hand the work they are part of.
We have set up village health committees already in 22 communities and have seen immediate impact. This is just the first step of our comprehensive program. One project leader said “The communities are thirsty for this work”.
Empowering local people is our path to sustainability
Another exciting part of this project is how we integrate local health workers. Local midwives have traditionally been shunned by the health system. Like in Guatemala, Curamericas Global is insisting on leveraging the great value of these midwives. Recently we trained 81 people in maternal and child health, including midwives alongside government health workers. That rarely happens where we work, and this training not only builds skills of health workers, but also bridges divides between the government and local midwives. Historically, some people have received silo-ed training in HIV or in Malaria. But few have received training in holistic maternal and child health. As you know, our approach is to work with the community to build up their own capacity to prevent unnecessary suffering. We are investing long-term with our partners to change the world!
How you can help
Stay connected with Curamericas Global by visiting our website, Facebook page, YouTube, and join us! Because of you, we can save lives of women and children in forgotten communities by fostering personable and sustainable health services. Take action Now
Please join us in serving our neighbors here. Check out how you can get involved and upcoming dates.
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