Kenya Urges County Governments to Enhance Neonatal Care to Reduce Infant Mortality

Wote, Makueni County – The Kenyan national government is advocating for county governments to prioritize investments in newborn units, aiming to bolster equipment availability, commodities, and personnel training. This initiative is part of a broader effort to reduce the neonatal mortality rate in the country.

According to Kenya News Agency, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha, represented by Director General of Health Dr. Patrick Amoth, emphasized this need at the National World Prematurity Day Celebrations held at Makueni Mother and Child Hospital in Wote. Nakhumicha highlighted the government’s commitment to reducing the neonatal mortality rate from the current 21 deaths per 1,000 live births to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of less than 12 deaths per 1000 live births by 2030.

The Cabinet Secretary underscored the importance of equipping newborn units with essential tools and training healthcare workers to manage neonatal care effectively. She noted that, in collaboration with partners, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has already equipped 17 hospital newborn units in 14 counties. These units are capable of providing comprehensive care, including Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for preterm and low birth weight neonates, assisted feeding, safe oxygen administration, and management of preterm respiratory distress using Continuous Positive Air Pressure machines (CPAP).

Nakhumicha also mentioned the development and dissemination of new guidelines for managing newborns, including the management of Apnoea of Prematurity using Caffeine Citrate and CPAP. The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) supported these efforts, negotiating a 70 percent reduction in the access price for caffeine citrate in Kenya and donating 16,700 ampoules of the drug. This contribution is expected to significantly increase its availability in the public sector.

Additionally, Ethypharm, through private sector engagement, is donating 10,000 ampoules of caffeine citrate and essential equipment for newborn units, including syringe pumps and pulse oximeters. These contributions, alongside the launch of the new guidelines and subsequent training of health care workers, aim to enhance neonatal care across the country.

Makueni County, which has trained 25 healthcare workers in KMC across six health facilities, will receive 2,000 ampoules of caffeine citrate to bolster its newborn care services. Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Junior called on the national government to subsidize the cost of equipment and machines used in neonatal units. He emphasized the need for a paradigm shift in how newborn units are treated, advocating for adequate space allocation in public hospitals to ensure comprehensive and effective neonatal care.

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