KENYA: Ministry takes free maternity to faith-based hospitals

October 2016 BusinessDaily; The government has expanded the Sh4.2 billion-a-year free maternity services programme to faith-based hospitals in a bid to cover more pregnant women from low-income households.

The scheme has, in the past three years, been confined to public hospitals. Expectant women visiting the mission hospitals are expected to enjoy free maternity services from Tuesday.

Health secretary Cleopa Mailu said the government will cover four antenatal check-ups, routine blood tests, delivery, post-natal care and infant immunisation of up to the fourth month.

“We have been leaving out a good number of needy women yet the faith-based hospitals also serve the same population that the government targets with the free maternity services,” said Dr Mailu at an interview.

Data from the Health ministry shows that of the about 1.8 million deliveries in the country every year, 62 per cent are done in health centres, leaving the rest of the mothers at the mercies of traditional birth attendants.

Dr Mailu said the programme is aimed at getting more mothers to deliver at the safe confines of hospitals with skilled health attendants.

He said that for the time being, the faith-based facilities will claim reimbursements through the ministry as they work towards including them in the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) system.

The hospitals will have to show records proving that deliveries were done at their facilities before compensation.

“Both systems will work concurrently starting early next year before the NHIF fully incorporates the expanded free maternity services. We are currently working on registration of the faith-based facilities from health centres going upwards,” said Dr Mailu.

He said in future they intend to expand the programme to private hospitals. President Uhuru Kenyatta introduced the free maternity services in 2013.



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