I was told there was a very large community of Maasai people living the next hill over from where we are building the Kenswed Maternity & Health Center. The Maasai people are an indigenous ethnic group and semi-nomadic people settled here in Kenya. Their population in Kenya estimates around 900 000 people. They have no medical or health center, and must travel 21km to Ngong to get treated, vaccinated or give birth. The road conditions are a bumpy dirt road for about 80% of the ride to Maasai land.
The men who took me to visit told me that 75% of women give birth on the side of the road because the nearest health center is too far away and they don’t end up making it. Most women take a midwife with them for the car ride, but even the midwife has a difficult time helping the mother birth on the side of the road as it is unhygienic, and they have no medical equipment with them. They told me that now with the health center and maternity ward we are building now, it is closer and more women will be able to make it in time to give birth in a sanitary, medically equipped clinic.
By having these women be able to reach the Kenswed Maternity and Health Center will hopefully reduced the maternal mortality and infant mortality rate. They told me that 1 out of 10 Maasai women die while giving birth on the side of the road, while an estimated 20% of infants die during delivery on the side of the road.
I told this small family I met about the health center we are building, and encouraged them to spread the word to the other Maasai people living in the area. I was bluntly reminded today again of the severe consequences of not having a health center close to where people live. I saw a large group of people were walking down the road to attend the funeral of the boy who passed away from pneumonia, while walking to the health center in Ngong, but died along the way.
Today and yesterday have been a rude awakening for me and hopefully everyone who reads these posts, to be grateful for easy, close access to health care, or even free health care.
Lööf Foundation Representative