Childbirth has long been a threat to the health of women living in extreme poverty in Kenya’s Marsabit County. While the quality of maternal health services has improved greatly, in 2019, the maternal mortality rate in Marsabit was still three times higher than Kenya’s average, with 1,127 deaths per 100,000 live births.
In 1971, the Illeret Health Centre was set up in Marsabit to serve families living locally, as well as nomadic Dashamite pastoralists. But until very recently, most mothers still opted for trusted traditional treatments and preferred to give birth at home, often in unsafe and unsuitable environments. In 2011, just three women chose to give birth at the centre.
The work we have been carrying out to connect staff at the Illeret Health Centre with local communities is successfully encouraging more pregnant mothers to come to the health centre for antenatal care and treatment, and even stay to give birth. In 2020, 210 mums-to-be visited the health centre each month for antenatal care and support, and 70 women gave birth there.