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, playing a crucial role in bringing together health development partners and stakeholders to improve the health of mothers and babies throughout their lives.
In Bungoma, 1 in every 2 cases of maternal deaths is due to is bleeding before or after childbirth. It is important to note that Bungoma is one of the counties with the highest rates of maternal mortality in Kenya estimated to be 382 deaths per 100,000 live births. Anaemia is also the leading indirect cause of deaths for mothers with 69% of the deaths reported in 2016. Wangamati’s efforts will help prevent these avoidable deaths.
The Bungoma blood campaign
One of the key notable activities the County First Lady has spearheaded in Bungoma is a robust blood donation campaign. Blood availability is incredibly important in preventing maternal deaths from bleeding. Her efforts have ensured stabilisation of the blood availability in Bungoma by increasing the focus of blood donation towards the community. She launched the campaign on November 11th 2017, which was organised by Mama Ye in collaboration with Bungoma County Department of Health, MANI project and the Rotary Club of Bungoma. According to the department of health, the County needs 600 units of blood monthly.
However, 450 units are collected on average and during holiday months, only 200 units are collected.
The rationale for this campaign is the continuing shortage of blood and blood products in Bungoma County and the minimal involvement of the community in blood donation efforts. In the past, blood donation drives have concentrated on school going children. However this results in blood shortages in the months of April, August and December when learning institutions go on recess.
Ensuring future blood availability
Mrs. Wangamati and Mama Ye welcome the idea that there is great need to create a culture of voluntary blood donation through constant engagement with adult donors through advocacy with factual information, education and multi-channelled communication. As a result, 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. Mama Ye welcomes the first lady’s plan to mobilise resources for upgrading the blood bank to a functional blood satellite, which would help ensure…. She confirmed that talks with some partners are underway.
Allocating resources for the health of mothers and babies
In her quest to convince development partners to join her efforts in mobilising resources for the department of health, the County First Lady has held several consultative meetings with them.
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 this 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.
As a strategic ally for the Department of Health, the First Lady’s plans to stage two sets of 42KM marathon in 2018 with an aim of mobilising resources for the county to be able to raise funds for the purchase of medical equipment and pay consultants who will be able to provide specialised care to patients with different conditions, including pregnancy complications. She emphasises the use of evidence to inform all forms of health interventions in Bungoma 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.