EU starts project to improve maternal and child healthcare at the Coast

The European Union and the Kenya government have launched a project to help improve maternal and child health and family planning in four districts in the coastal region.

   The project is set to deliver access to healthcare and advice to almost 80,000 people in Taita Taveta.
   EU Ambassador to Kenya Lodewijk Briet said the EU will spend 1.16 million US dollars over the next three years to help about 35,000 mothers and children have access to health care and advice during pregnancy and birth and provide better nutrition to infants.
   "The health of mothers and new born children is a critical concern to us at the European Union," Briet during the launch of the project on May 24.
   "Together with colleagues in government and partners on the ground, we are doing our bit to help achieve the Kenyan government's targets to reduce child mortality rates and improve maternal health in the poorest parts of the country." he said.
   According to the UN, the maternal mortality rate has increased from 380 to 580.
   The lifetime risk of maternal death in Kenya in 2008 was one in 39, among the highest in the world. However, the union says Kenya is taking the right steps to mitigate the problem.
   The EU is working with World Vision, International Medical Corps and St Joseph Shelter of Hope.
   Briet said 40 youth promoters will also be recruited to spread information and advice about safe and healthy family planning, intended to educate a further 40,000 young people in the county.
   The project will operate in Mwatate, Wundanyi, Taveta and Voi districts and is designed to address the combined effect of disease, higher than average poverty rate and poor nutrition, which has led to a reported high child mortality rate of 93 per 1, 000 live births in the local population.
   "The European Union has been supporting projects aiming at improving child and maternal health in Kenya for almost 20 years," Briet said.
   The project will address the low level of health services in the area. Through training 500 health care workers, who will be employed by the Health Ministry at the county and district level, the project will teach mothers-to-be about antenatal care, safe birthing procedures, and better feeding and hygiene practices for young babies.
   The project is supporting Kenya's National Reproductive Health Strategy and Policy and will help build the ability of the local Health Ministry office to provide long-term health services.
   This is one of the 19 mother and child health projects being implemented around the country with funding from the European Union in partnership with communities, the county and the national governments. The European Union is currently spending 20.2 million US dollars on child and maternal healthcare in Kenya.
   The EU envoy said following the conclusion of training in early 2016, the Ministry of Health and local the communities will be responsible for maintaining the delivery of services. (Xinhua)