A price too high to bear: the costs of maternal mortality to families and communities
Robinson Karuga is research coordinator at FCI-Kenya.
A meeting today in Nairobi, hosted by FCI-Kenya, brought Kenyan government officials together with representatives from research organizations, health and development NGOs, civil society groups, and the private sector, for the launch of a groundbreaking research project that will shed new light on the financial and non-financial costs of maternal mortality.
This research, to be conducted by FCI in partnership with the Kenyan health ministry’s Division of Reproductive Health, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), and the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Centers for Disease Control (KEMRI/CDC-Kisumu), and with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Kenya office of the UK Department for International Development (DFID-Kenya), aims to fill a critical gap in knowledge about the impact of a woman’s death in pregnancy or childbirth on her family, her community, and her nation. This will provide a critical resource for advocates working — in Kenya, in other developing countries, and at the global level — for increased political commitment and financial investment in improving the availability, quality, and utilization of maternal health services.
Previous studies in a number of countries have suggested that children who lose their mother are more likely to die themselves or experience stunted growth and less likely to be educated. This three-year research project seeks to provide the first full accounting of the direct monetary cost of a maternal death for the household, the indirect costs in terms of lost productivity and income, and the “social costs” of maternal deaths to families and communities in terms of the changes in household structure and household responsibilities. Research will take place in Nyanza Province in western Kenya, in an area of high poverty, low utilization of skilled childbirth care, and among the highest levels of maternal mortality in Kenya.
We are all eagerly awaiting the findings of this research to propel advocacy around safe pregnancy and childbirth, and will report occasionally on The FCI Blog about the project’s progress.