“We couldn’t cross the railway tracks.” The heart-wrenching words of a mother whose baby died during childbirth in Mukuru, Embakasi. The mother’s words echoed through the room from a video highlighting the difficulties faced by Kenyan mothers in the Mukuru kwa Njenga slum, kicking off the morning session on an emotional note.
The audience, a group of innovators in maternal and newborn healthcare, was gathered in Nairobi on this sunny Friday morning for a day of discussion, representing the five organizations that are Round 2 winners of the County Innovation Challenge Fund.
Childbirth is no walk in the park, but for many Kenyan women, the challenges of accessing even the most basic maternal healthcare transform childbirth into a life or death matter. The mother in Mukuru kwa Njenga slum, whose child might have been saved if she had access to a healthcare facility, is one of many sad stories. But this group of innovators want to re-write the story.
“We feel privileged to have the opportunity to make a difference,” said one participant. “We need to go to where our people need us and start causing change!” another remarked.
The morning session was an inspiring one as the grantees explain their projects and enthusiastically explained the difference they expect to make to the health of mothers and newborns. The Round 2 winners were then presented with award letters by Head of DFID Kenya, Lisa Philips, amidst smiles and applause. Awards were presented to:
- Save the Children: Improving the monitoring of labour through the use of a digital partograph; Increasing access to quality care for preterm and low birth weight babies in Kenya through Kangaroo Mother Care
- Research Care and Training Program-Family Aids Care and Education Services (RCTP-FACES): Electronic Maternal Child Health Record (eMCHR)
- African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC): Using a Decision-Support Smartphone Application to enhance Community Health Volunteers’ effectiveness in reducing Maternal complications and Newborn deaths in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya-a pilot study
- Gertrude's Children's Foundation: TeleAfya Project: Enhancing Public-Private Partnerships in the Delivery of Maternal and Newborn Health Services in Garissa County through technology
- Afya Research Africa (ARA): The Ubuntu-Afya Kiosk Project: Bridging the Last Yard in Maternal and Newborn Health Services
The afternoon session was lively and enlightening as participants discussed the implementation of their innovations and brainstormed solutions to potential setbacks.
The winners from this round seek to save the lives of mothers and babies with creative innovations, including digitizing crucial records so that life-saving information is readily available; assisting community healthcare workers to make timely interventions; and training in the Kangaroo Mother Care method, among other innovations.
The winning innovations from this second round are being implemented in Bungoma, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Nairobi (Kamukunji) and Garissa counties.
The seven winners of the competition’s first round were announced in October 2015, and have also begun implementing their projects.