On International Women’s Day 2018, we celebrate the achievements of the Bungoma County First Lady, Caroline Wesonga Wangamati, who has strongly positioned herself as an RMNCAH champion. She plays a playing a crucial role in bringing together health development partners and stakeholders to improve the health of mothers and babies throughout their lives.
Wangamati’s efforts have been mainly oriented in pressing for progress and improvements on blood availability in the county. In Bungoma, 1 in every 2 cases of maternal death is due to bleeding before or after childbirth. The county has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in Kenya, estimated to be 382 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The Bungoma blood campaign
Blood availability is incredibly important in preventing maternal deaths from bleeding and that of Ms. Wangamati is only one of the many examples of women that on International Women’s Day 2018 advocate to support women, mothers and children’s health rights.
The County First Lady has led a robust blood donation campaign and her contribution has ensured stabilisation of the blood availability in the county by increasing the focus of blood donation towards the community. The campaign was launched on November 11th 2017, and it was organised by E4A-Mama Ye in collaboration with Bungoma County Department of Health, MANI project and the Rotary Club of Bungoma.
However, 450 units are collected on average and during holiday months, only 200 units are collected.
The campaign originates from the continuing shortage of blood and blood products in Bungoma County and the minimal involvement of the community in blood donation efforts. According to the department of health, the County needs 600 units of blood monthly.
Allocating resources for the health of mothers and babies
Mrs. Wangamati and E4A-Mama Ye welcome the idea that there is great need to create a culture of voluntary blood donation through constant engagement of adult donors. She committed to lead the campaign further through organised community groups with the support of all interested parties. She set a target of at least 800 units per month to be collected.
The County First Lady confirmed that talks with some partners are underway to join efforts in mobilising resources for the department of health.
I am a child that was born in this county. I speak with a lot of passion as a person who wants every single indicator of health to change
Mrs. Wangamati said as she rose to address development partners at a meeting last year. “I want each and every sub county hospital to be able to have adequate facilities like theatres and human resources to take care of emergencies”. She said, while emphasising the fact that Bungoma County had only one gynaecologist and paediatrician each to take care of the immense maternal and newborn needs of the county.
On International Women’s Day, Mrs. Wangamati called on all key health implementing partners to work closely with her to ensure that there are enough resources available for the department of health to satisfactorily carry out its function.