Family Care International (FCI) has been active in Kenya since the early 1990s, and is now working with the Ministry of Health and a range of national and international partner organizations to improve maternal health, increase adolescents’ access to sexuality information and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.
One in 19 Kenyan women will die from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. The high maternal mortality (1,000 deaths per 100,000 live births) rate is driven by limited access to skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth, and the post-partum period, as well as unsafe abortions, and complications related to HIV/AIDS and malaria.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has hit Kenya hard. In 2003, about 7% of the adult population was estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS and prevalence among women aged 15-49 was estimated to be even higher at 9%.
Making Motherhood Safer
In Kenya many maternal health indicators have been worsening in the two decades since the global Safe Motherhood Initiative was launched in Nairobi in 1987. For example use of professional maternity care during childbirth has fallen during the past decade, as has women’s use of antenatal care.
Drawing on findings from our Skilled Care Initiative, FCI has been working with the Kenyan Ministry of Health in Eastern Province to improve the availability and quality of maternity care and promote women’s use of these services. We have introduced measures to improve the quality of maternal health services at local health facilities, upgraded the clinical and counseling skills of health workers, addressed equipment and infrastructure gaps, and engaged community leaders in promoting the use of skilled maternity care.
In addition, at selected health facilities in Eastern Province FCI has launched a new pilot initiative to strengthen local health facility management committees—committees that are generally comprised of local community leaders who have little management training or knowledge about maternal health. Through the introduction of a focused management skills training, FCI has sensitized local leaders about maternal health needs, and engaged and empowered them to ensure that the health facility is offering quality services. The project has yielded important lessons, highlighting the enormous potential of these community leaders to be champions for mothers and their babies. “I am so happy,” said one committee chairman, “that today as I leave this training, I am a different person, full of knowledge and well armed to work.”
Improving Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health
Since 1997, FCI has been working to ensure that young people in Kenya have life-saving information and services to protect their sexual and reproductive health. In partnership with the Family Planning Association of Kenya and Straight Talk Foundation (Uganda), FCI developed a set of innovative sexuality education materials that are now being used by youth groups, schools, and other youth-serving organizations throughout Kenya and other countries in English-speaking Africa. Through a unique pilot project with private nurses and midwives, FCI has also worked to ensure that preventive and curative reproductive health services are available and accessible to young people.
Complementing these efforts, FCI has worked in several rural districts of Kenya to mobilize broad-based support for the implementation of policies that will reduce the spread of HIV among young people. After training youth and adult advocates at the grassroots level, we supported community-based groups in their work to heighten public awareness of the sexual and reproductive health risks facing youth, and build broad-based support for efforts to meet young people’s needs for sexuality information and reproductive health services. Through this initiative, FCI worked with local partners to develop a range of fact sheets for various audiences—such as parents, religious leaders, and health care providers—as well as a multi-part radio call-in program that was broadcast in both English and Kikuyu.
For more information contact:
P.O. Box 45763
Laikipia Town Houses - House 3
Tel: (254-20) 44-43-167
Fax: (254-20) 44-43-204
e-mail: fcikenya [@] fcimail [.] org
Family Care International
Anglophone Africa Program
45 Broadway, Suite 320
New York, New York 10006 USA
E-mail: fcianglo [@] fcimail [.] org