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Pregnant women at risk of death in Kenya during COVID-19 curfew

Medical experts in Kenya say they believe the number of women and babies who die in childbirth has increased significantly since the COVID-19 curfew.

Pregnant women at risk of death in Kenya during COVID-19 curfew www.africanstand.com


(African Stand) — Medical experts in Kenya say they believe the number of women and babies who die in childbirth has increased significantly since the curfew to tackle the spread of the new coronavirus was imposed in mid-March.

The African nation has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world, and though concrete data is not yet available, some are already taking steps to help.

The concerns drove obstetrician and gynecologist Jemimah Kariuki at the government-run Kenyatta National Hospital to attempt a solution.

“They would come in the morning with either having their babies passed on at night or they had ruptured or while they were labouring the uterus just burst open or they had really significant tears and when one lady was reported to pass on during labour I just felt like there is something that I needed to do,” says Kariuki.

He has started an initiative named “Wheels for Life” which seeks to help expectant mothers get to the hospital for pregnancy-related emergencies at zero cost.

The service is applicable from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am and mainly transports pregnant women during curfew hours. The women can consult doctors through the service.

Patients who dial 1196, a toll-free number, will have medics arrive in an ambulance to transport them to a medical facility.

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It’s hoped the service will use for expectant women during a time when the Kenyan government has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.

To date, the service has dealt with 10,950 calls and has assisted 890 women to get to hospitals where they would get sufficient medical attention.

According to Kariuki, expectant women would lose their babies if they had tried to give birth at home during curfew hours without the help of qualified medical personnel.

“Wheels for Life” is supported by the Ministry of Health, Nairobi Metropolitan Services, Kenya Health Federation, Amref Health Africa, University of Nairobi, and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa).

According to Kariuki, the service is mainly used by people from low-income areas.

However, she hopes that people from all walks of life will use it in the long run.

So far 23 people have lost their lives in the hands of police after they were allegedly assaulted for violating the government orders to remain indoors during curfew hours.

Johnny Mapesa

Written by Johnny Mapesa

Johnny Mapesa is an award-winning Kenyan journalist who is driven with passion and has worked for several media brands both locally and internationally and currently working with African Stand.

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