Solar power to support safer birthing practices

Safe birthing kits will be delivered to pregnant women in remote communities of Kenya, along with solar lamps which will help during night births and in caring for babies post-delivery. Image: John Simiyu Nasongo

Mothers’ Union is working together with nomadic pastoralist communities in Laikipia and Samburu districts of Kenya to strengthen the birth plans of pregnant women. In consultation with the Ministry of Health, plans are now being considered to distribute safe birthing kits which will give mothers and babies a better chance at safe delivery in remote regions.

The first 200 kits will be distributed to pregnant women in their first trimester, along with instructions for use and the recommendation that it is best to give birth in a clinic or hospital where a skilled birth attendant is on duty. Distribution of the birthing kits will be supported by trained community health workers, whose role will include educating women about safe birthing practices and connecting them to health services in their region.

Each birthing kit will contain a pair of clean gloves, cord ligature, razor blade, cotton wool, hand-washing soap, polythene paper, and a clinic card. These basic items are not readily available in nomadic pastoralist communities. As a result, unsafe practices are carried out that can place unnecessary risk on the health of mothers and newborns.

Solar lamps will be distributed along with the kits, in preparation for births that may take place at night. These lamps are suitable for the local environment – easy to charge with sunlight during the day and portable enough to be transported during nomadic migration. They will also help families to care for newborns after delivery.

It is hoped the provision of safe birthing kits will help reduce maternal and child mortality rates in areas where home deliveries, in very basic conditions, are frequent.

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