One of the most successful initiatives in the Kenyan history dubbed Kenyan’s for Kenya has been hit a scandal. The anti-hunger campaign which raised money for the drought hit areas in the country may as well be termed as a double tragedy after some of the food rations bought with the cash was found to be contaminated and unfit for human consumption.
Some of the foods which had already been delivered to drought-hit areas contained traces of the deadly aflatoxin according to
Redcross Secretary General Abass Gullet. The contaminated food is said to have been consumed by school going children putting their lives in danger. “We estimate the number of pupils who ate the food as 60,000,” said Abass.
Samples of the Unimix food supplied to Northern Kenya and parts of Coast Province was tested by the Kenya Bureau of standards, SGS and Analab all of whom confirmed the contamination. Though Abass did not name the company who supplied the contaminated products, he said Proctor & Allan and Sai Millers were the only two companies from where they ordered the foods. Medical research has shown that high-level of aflatoxin exposure produces an acute hepatic to cancer of the liver.
Children, however, are particularly more affected by aflatoxin exposure, which leads to stunted growth and delayed development. Kenya Redcross has listed the schools affected and will seek the help of ministries of Education and Public Health to conduct urgent medical check-ups on the pupils.
The contaminated food has since been recalled to the Redcross office in Nairobi according to Abass who said he was disappointed by the turn of events of a campaign meant to help needy Kenyans.
Taking Antenatal Care to mothers, Jacaranda Maternity Mobile Clinic
By Monicah Mwangi
Though pregnancy is both an exciting and worrying period, becoming a mother is one of the best times in a woman’s life. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, expectant mothers are advised to visit antenatal clinics at least four times during the pregnancy term.
Some women, mostly from the poor settlements of urban areas don’t take the clinic aspect seriously due to either ignorance or poverty which sometime endangers their lives and that of the unborn baby. This is why the newly established Jacaranda Maternity came to be in an effort to ensure every woman gets antenatal care from their home areas.
Opened in Nairobi 4 months ago, Jacaranda is a health care provider operating as a social venture aiming to set a new standard for maternity care in East Africa. To kick off the exercise mobile clinics were set up most of them along Thika road and have been giving services to women from the neighboring estates like Kasarani, Kariobangi, and Mathare North slums.
According to Edwin Lutomia, a Health Specialist at the clinic, theirs is an innovative approach to maternal health. “We are combining business and clinical innovations to create a fully self-sustaining and scalable chain of clinics that provide reproductive health services to poor urban women”, he said. He says they have been attending to a minimum of 6 women at each location on different days of the week which he says is a good start.
Their model is a combination of two tightly-integrated services which include mobile vans that create a direct link with the mothers, generate demand and healthy outcomes through antenatal care and birth preparedness. They are also working on establishing Jacaranda Clinics near the slums where women can go for respectful obstetric care, safe delivery, family planning, and postnatal care.
Through community partnership, Jacaranda has so far identified locations on specific days of the week when women can visit for health education and birth planning danger signs in some parts of Nairobi. “We are mostly working with schools and churches most of whom have been very supportive and willing to give us space to set up out clinics,” said Edwin.
The mobile outreach vans are equal parts social marketing and clinical innovation. They provide antenatal care and serve as emergency vehicles, but also help build the brand and overcome the barriers that prevent many women from reaching facilities. The Jacaranda Clinics themselves include top-notch medical care to address most causes of maternal mortality – but at the same time include process innovations to keep prices low enough that most of our target market can afford them.
The clinic charges Sh 700 for antenatal profile which is reasonably low compared to other service providers in the city. This is followed by a Sh 50 follow up visits where one is given a minimum of one and a half hours to discuss pregnancy health matters with a midwife. “We give them as much time as they need since people out there are shy and keep away from discussing pregnancy issues but we want to change that,” said Edwin. This integrated service means less wait time and continuity of care from a single provider.
He says the clinic is reaching to their target, “from a single mother of 17 years getting her first medical visit 36 weeks into her pregnancy, to a mother on her fourth pregnancy who had experienced preterm labor and didn’t know where she should plan to deliver, this is the place to come,” he said.
Though their target is women living in peri-urban areas, Evelyne, a sales and Marketing Consultant at Jacaranda says many middle income earners have been visiting their facility saying they enjoy the much given time with a health care provider. She adds that their greatest worry has been convincing mothers that they will be frequent with the mobile clinics. “The fact that we are mobile worries them a lot since they need a provider who is consistent and they can be sure to find during their next visit,” she laments.
Jane Mugure, one of the women visiting the clinic said Jacaranda have not failed to be at the station since they started off at Kasarani 4 months ago.
“We were worried at first but they have proven otherwise, i now rely on them for my antenatal care,” said seven months pregnant Mugure.
Jacaranda is currently not having a maternity facility but they are in partnership with Hospitals near their operating areas like Uzima and Neema Hospitals where they refer their patients in case of complications and for deliveries. Most of the women however go back to Jacaranda for postnatal care according to Evelyne.
Jacaranda’s ambition is to change the way maternity care is provided for the more than 1 million poor women giving birth each year in urban East Africa. “We aim to become the largest provider of affordable and reliable maternity care in the region, and more importantly raise the standard of care among other private and public providers,” tipped Evelyne.
Researchers and clinicians have proven that low-cost interventions to reduce mortality are feasible and effective and Jacaranda’s goal is to package these innovations into the region’s first truly sustainable and scalable service delivery organization.
According to Evelyne, the clinics in Nairobi are meant to pilot the model and test the ground and once it works, up to 30 clinics will be scaled up in cities across East Africa over the next five years. They are also working on establishing a fixed facility where maternity services will be provided. “We have given ourselves a deadline of January to have the maternity unit along Thika road, ” said Edwin.