CSOs ask Kakamega County to scrap child delivery charges

Civil Society Organizations (CSO) have warned that increasing child delivery charges in county hospitals could lead to increased home deliveries thereby reversing the gains made towards improved maternal health.

The CSOs were reacting to the County’s proposal to increase normal child delivery fees from the current Sh1000 to Sh3500 in the Kakamega County Finance Bill 2022.

The County Government proposed the increment to encourage women to enroll for the Imarisha Afya ya Mama na Mtoto programme meant for expectant women.

The programme provides cover for expectant women to deliver free of charge in all county hospitals, attend all four antenatal Clinics (ANCs) and monitor child’s growth up to 18months from birth.

Other than delivering for free, the Linda Afya ya Mama na Mtoto popularly known as Oparanya care provides the beneficiaries with monthly upkeep of Sh2000.

The programme was rolled out in 2014 and relaunched in 2021 where the beneficiaries are linked to other social support programmes such as enrolment in National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and Inua Jamii Cash Transfer programme.

The programme, which is aligned with the National Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition(MIYCN) 2013, has registered over 50 000 with 22041 benefiting.

Network for Research and Governance (NRG) Lead Paul Odongo said during a public participation for the 2022 Finance Bill that child delivery should be free of charge even with other social protection programmes in place.

He said the county government should instead invest in community health education through the Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) to educate women to enlist with the social protection programs.

The major problem facing the Afya ya Mama na Mtoto programme according to medics is lack of Identity Cards (IDs) among women who were the target group. The ID is a major requirement for one to be enrolled as a beneficiary.

Two weeks ago, 60 women were discharged from the Kakamega General Hospital (KGH), where they had spent three months after giving birth. Shockingly, the majority lacked ID Cards hence could not benefit from the County’s Social Protection programme.

Meanwhile, the county government plans to relocate an oxygen plant installed at the newly constructed Referral Hospital to the Kakamega General Hospital after the one at the KGH broke down nine months ago.

Since the breakdown, the county government has been importing oxygen from Siaya and Kisumu counties, a move that CSO’s questioned during the public participation.

The CSOs reacted after the county proposed increased administration of oxygen in female wards from Sh200 to Sh500 per day in the 2022 Finance Bill.

Joseph Machio from the Africa center for Non-Violence and Sustainable Impact in Kakamega said the county ought to use the money it spends to acquire oxygen from other counties to repair the oxygen plant

“How much money are we spending to get oxygen from Siaya and Kisumu counties which could be used to produce oxygen in Kakamega county?” he asked.

While moderating the public participation forum, the Officer in charge of Budget and Finance at the Kakamega County Assembly Beatrice Ilavonga said the Finance Bill is a legal document that would enable the county government to raise its targeted Sh2billion revenue in the 2022/2023 financial year.



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