Promotion of Safe Motherhood practices in Kalobeyei
The Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement managed by the Kenya Red Cross Society offers comprehensive Primary Health Services to both the refugee population currently at 38,196 and the host population estimated at 20,000 people. The services provided include preventive and curative nutrition services aimed at improving the nutritional health well-being of the vulnerable groups that include children under the age of five (5) years with Acute Malnutrition, Pregnant and Lactating mothers as well as infants and young children in accordance to national guidelines.
Rebecca Lamden is a safe motherhood promoter who has been part of the project since 2017. “I started being a safe motherhood promoter in January 2017. Basically, my job is to educate pregnant mothers on the different aspects of both their and their child’s health before, during and after pregnancy. Do you know why this is important? Most of these people here come from a very traditional society where they are discouraged from participating in modern medicine practices. There are a lot of misconceptions about modern medicine which come in conflict with traditional cultural practices which may endanger both the mother and child’s life. It is important to educate the mothers on the potential risks that they face which include delivery deaths when the children are born in the house, childbirth complications, early danger signs before childbirth or post-delivery deaths.”
“I remember this particular mother who had lost three of her children due to birth complications. One death takes a mental toll on any mother now you can imagine three. My compassionate nature couldn’t let me sit back and watch this happen so when she had her fourth pregnancy I silently made a commitment to have this child survive. For 8 months of continually following her and helping her through her new pregnancy journey, the child was delivered through a C-section. To this day, that remains one of my proudest success stories. Her story gave so many women who had given up on getting children hope,” Rebecca narrated.
Rebecca stated that some of the challenges that she faces in her everyday work include the cultural mindsets and the lack of trust for modern family planning methods.
“It takes quite a lot of effort to convince someone that family planning is for their own benefit. In some of these cultures, a child is seen as a blessing and the reality is that blessing needs to be fed and taken care of. Given the limited resources that refugees have access to, we try our best to educate them on the economic implications of their decisions. They are slowly taking up condoms, contraceptives and IUD’s.”
The safe motherhood promoters have reported a significant reduction in childhood deaths since 2016. “We are grateful for the work both Kenya Red Cross and UNHCR are doing for us. Hopefully, we will continue with the great work and have a bigger impact” Rebecca added.