Tag Archives: Kenya

Why Kenya Needs to Adopt ‘Milk Banks’ to Reduce Infant Deaths

Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, Brown University

Mother’s milk has an enormous impact on child survival. While in Kenya it has improved over the past decade, the number of children who die before five years remains significant. The rate has decreased from 115 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 52 in 2014.

Neighbors Rwanda (2008), Tanzania (2012) and Uganda (2011) have recorded 50, 66 and 65 deaths per 1,000 live births for children below five years, respectively.

The main causes of childhood deaths are infections, preterm births and lack of sufficient oxygen, or asphyxia.

Breastfeeding infants on breast milk alone until they are six months old has been shown to reduce child mortality. When mothers can’t provide their own milk, the next best alternative is donor milk from other women. Access to “human milk banks” gives vulnerable infants, without access to their mother’s own milk, a healthy start to life.

The milk bank concept was initiated in Vienna in 1909 and was preceded by a century old practice of wet nursing – a mother breastfeeding another mother’s child.

Since then, over 500 human milk banks have been established in more than 37 countries globally in developed and developing countries. The pioneer countries include Brazil, South Africa, India, Canada, Japan and France.

Continue reading Why Kenya Needs to Adopt ‘Milk Banks’ to Reduce Infant Deaths

How a Breastfeeding Initiative in Rural Kenya Changed Attitudes

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Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age.
Alissa Everett/Reuters

Judith Kimiywe, Kenyatta University and Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, Brown University

There’s a growing global recognition of proper infant nutrition in the child’s first 1000 days of life. This can be monitored through encouraging proper nutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of life for optimal growth, health and survival.

Poor breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices are some of the common causes of malnutrition in the first two years of life. Breastfeeding confers both short-term and long-term benefits to the child like reducing the risk of infections and diseases like asthma, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Mothers who breastfeed also lower their risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, weak bones, obesity and heart diseases.

For countries to reap the benefits of breastfeeding they need to achieve a baby friendly status. Kenya began promoting the baby friendly hospital initiative approach in 2002. It ensures that health facilities where mothers give birth encourage immediate initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Unfortunately, this programme was only accessible to women who delivered in the health facilities, leaving out those who give birth at home.

We conducted a two year study involving 800 pregnant women and their respective children in a rural area in Kenya. The study involved testing feasibility and potential effectiveness of the baby friendly community initiative (BFCI), whereby women in the intervention arm were given home-based counselling on optimal breastfeeding alongside health facility based counselling. These mother-child pairs were followed until the child was at least six months.

Continue reading How a Breastfeeding Initiative in Rural Kenya Changed Attitudes

Ensuring Safer Pregnancies for Kenyan Women in Urban Slums

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Antenatal care is important during pregnancy.
Reuters

Blessing Mberu, African Population and Health Research Center; Kanyiva Muindi, African Population and Health Research Center, and Patricia Elungata, McGill University

Globally, there’s a general decline in the number of women who die from pregnancy or childbirth complications. However in Kenya, it remains high at 488
deaths per 100,000 live births. Maternal mortality is a health indicator of the wide gaps
between rich and poor, urban and rural areas within countries.

The lack of appropriate maternal health services and an almost near absence of public health facilities within the slums has led to the reliance on for profit health facilities.

Most of the health facilities available in the slums face challenges like the lack of skilled personnel and necessary equipment to deal with maternal and child health emergencies.

Transport costs and poverty are barriers to proper utilisation of maternal health care services in the slums leading to deaths of mothers during this critical period.

Continue reading Ensuring Safer Pregnancies for Kenyan Women in Urban Slums

Impress Mom With These Maternal Health Mother’s Day Gift Ideas + Giveaway

Mother’s Day is the perfect holiday to splurge on the moms in your life as well as to support moms around the world. It’s a day to show love for mothers we know and to also remain mindful of the mothers everywhere who may need a little or even a lot of help for them and their families.

In a political climate where more and more US funding is being stalled or even cut for maternal and reproductive health globally, these gifts can help mothers in more ways than you might realize.

Here are organizations we believe in and help mothers survive pregnancy and childbirth.

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Photo: Midwives for Haiti

Midwives for Haiti: After spending time in Haiti with Midwives for Haiti a few years ago and seeing the amazing care they provide for poor, rural expecting Haitian women, I cannot recommend donating to them enough! Midwives for Haiti’s mobile clinic gives Haitian women the opportunity to receive quality maternal health care without having to walk for hours for antenatal appointments.

Midwives for Haiti is currently in the midst of a fundraiser for its mobile clinic. $10 provides care for one mom. Donate for Mother’s Day and help them reach their $60,000 goal by May 15.

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Jacaranda Health: Jacaranda Health is providing expectant mothers in Kenya with great maternity care. In fact, Jacaranda Health just received distinction as one of the highest quality maternity care providers in East Africa.

For Mother’s Day, Jacaranda Health is asking participants in the United States and Kenya to upload #ThrowbackMumsDay photos of yourself with your mum on Twitter and Facebook. You could win a free spa day for two. Help Jacaranda Health celebrate Mother’s Day this year.

Every Mother Counts: Every Mother Counts has a wonderful Mother’s Day fundraiser going on their website where you can buy wonderful gifts and a portion of the net proceeds goes directly to saving women’s lives while they’re pregnant.

Using the universal symbol of maternal health, the orange rose, Every Mother Counts has launched its Mother’s Day Orange Rose collection with partners including Tom’s, Minted, and Marc Jacobs and

Dutch Chocolate

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Tony’s Chocolonely

We wrote about Tony’s Chocolonely the other day and wanted to also include them again in our Mother’s Day gift guide. Tony’s Chocolonely offers slave-free chocolate. Not only is it ethical chocolate, it’s also delicious! Tony’s Chocolonely offers two different sizes and seven flavors. Buy your mom chocolate for Mother’s Day.

GIVEAWAY: Win Elevita’s Best Bag Ever Made By Cambodian Artisans

elevita

Elevita is on a mission to alleviate poverty worldwide by helping artisans in developing countries find a greater world market for their products. Visit Elevita to read more about their mission and to see their artisan wares.

To win one of Elevita’s Best Bags Ever for Mother’s Day leave a comment below. Ends May 14, 2017.

Three African Countries Chosen for First Malaria Vaccine Trials

For decades, there has been consistent chatter, research, and hope for a potential malaria vaccine. Now, all three are finally coming to fruition to roll out the world’s first clinical malaria vaccine trials. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced today that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have been chosen for the WHO-coordinated pilot implementation program that will make the world’s first malaria vaccine available in 2018.

“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” she added.

Sub-Saharan Africa records 90% of all global malaria cases. Even though the number of cases and deaths have dropped dramatically since 2001, the rate is still astronomically high. In fact, malaria still remains one of the deadliest killers on the African continent, especially for children under the age of five.

To date, the most effective way to curb malaria cases is via the use of bed nets and indoor residual spraying.  Unfortunately, 43% of sub-Saharan Africans are not protected against either and 429,000 people died from malaria in 2015. After spending time with mothers in Tanzania with Malaria No More, I saw this to be true. I met moms standing in long lines to receive new nets, but the ones they had used for years had holes throughout, rendering them virtually worthless.

There is now new hope to curb child deaths with the injectible malaria vaccine targeted to children within five to 17 months called RTS,S. The vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline. Malawi, Kenya, and Ghana were chosen for the following reasons according to the World Health Organization:

  • high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal treated nets (LLINs)
  • well-functioning malaria and immunization programs
  • a high malaria burden even after scale-up of LLINs,
  • and participation in the Phase III RTS,S malaria vaccine trial

The countries themselves will determine the areas in their country where the trials will ultimately take place. The $49.2 million cost of the trials will be taken up by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID. The World Health Organization and GlaxoSmithKline will additionally provide complimentary funds for the malaria trial efforts.

Photo: UN Photo/Marie Frechon