As of 2014 only 23% of Kenyans have access to electricity according to the World Bank. That number has remained steady since 2005. Now, a reported two million Kenyans will gain access to renewable energy through portable home solar kits donated by renewable energy company, US-based SkyPower. The home kits will include LED bulbs, a fan, USB charging capabilities and a radio that will be powered and recharged by the sun.
Earlier this week we wrote that Duke University researchers discovered that spinal anesthesia (epidurals) can be given to women during C-sections in low-resource settings in Ghana. Now, there is even more good news regarding women in Africa who are in need of emergency C-sections during high-risk deliveries.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Kenya’s AIC Kijabe Hospital, a 260-bed complex, composed of a 230-bed main hospital, a 30-bed orthopedic and rehabilitation children’s hospital, and the Kenya-based Center for Public Health and Development recently received a $2.6 million grant from the GE Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to improve surgical safety by advancing anesthesia and obstetrics surgery team training and coordination.
The grant will help women who live in remote Western Kenya.
Eight million children under the age of five die every year from preventable diseases. Of those eight million deaths, 2.8 million are neonates according to the World Health Organization. Key interventions like Kangaroo Mother Care, pre-and postnatal care, deliveries in a hospital setting with trained health workers, and exclusive breastfeeding are some proven ways to keep more babies alive.
Two leading researchers, Dr. Joanne Katz, Professor and Associate Chair at the Department of International Health of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Dr. Abdhalah Ziraba, Associate Research Scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center have both won $50,000 from CappSci‘s Data for Life Prize to collect data on scalable, low-cost solutions that have the potential to save lives.
Dr. Katz will study the use of portable ultrasound for expecting mothers in rural Nepal where home births are highly common. A number of risk factors appear during the third trimester that can be detected with the help of portable ultrasound machines, allowing women to seek care and prepare for medical facility-based deliveries.
Dr. Ziraba will study Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for new mothers and neonates in Kenya. KMC involves immediate skin-to-skin contact of mother and baby, frequent breastfeeding and maternal-infant bonding. The non-medical intervention aims to reduce preterm and underweight deaths, which are often the result of hypothermia and poor nutrition.
“It was most exciting and gratifying to find out that our work identifying pregnant women with problems late in pregnancy needing specialized delivery care using portable ultrasound equipment in rural Nepal had been funded by the Data for Life Prize,” said Dr. Katz. “These are women who usually deliver at home or in facilities that cannot take care of these problems. By knowing in advance about these concerns, they can plan to deliver in a facility with the right staff and equipment to help save their lives and those of their infants.”
“While the under-five mortality rates have been reducing in the last 10-15 years in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of babies dying before the age of one month has not been improving. The coverage of interventions for averting these deaths remains low, and more effort is needed in assessing alternatives that can save the lives of preterm and underweight babies. APHRC will utilize this prize to support work aimed at averting death of preterm and underweight babies through a tailored Community level Kangaroo Mother Care intervention in two slums of Nairobi City,” said Dr. Ziraba.
Last week, I travelled from the capital city of Nairobi, Kenya, to Turkana County which is in the northern part of the country. Turkana is a largely pastoralist community with a population of 855,000 people. The county faces major problems, chief among them recurring droughts which has for years crippled the county’s economic development.
The lack of adequate rainfall continues to be a source of conflict for Turkana and her neighbours –the Pokot community, as well as the neighbouring countries of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia as they fight for the scarce resources of water and grazing pasture. With the main economic activity being livestock farming, cattle raids are a frequent occurrence in Turkana, which is classified as a High Hazard Probability (HHP) of food, conflict and drought.