Lifesaving care for mothers and babies in Kenya msf Mrima Health Centre, Likoni

At the Mrima Health Centre in Likoni, expectant mothers now have access to emergency obstetric care. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), together with the Mombasa County Department of Health, has upgraded the facility so that women experiencing complications with their pregnancy can deliver safely and free of charge.

[Photos: Yann Libessart / MSF]

Mrima Health Centre is one of the five public health facilities in Likoni sub-county, situated in Mombasa County. There are no other existing services providing Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (CEmONC) in Likoni sub-county, an area home to over 200,000 people.

The Coast Provincial General Hospital (CPGH) is situated on Mombasa Island and many patients travel by ferry to reach it. Frequent mechanical problems with the ferry cause delays, which can have critical consequences for obstetric and neonatal emergencies.

Previously, the CPGH was the only point of referral for obstetric emergencies in Likoni. With MSF opening an operating theatre at Mrima Health Centre in January 2017, the burden on the hospital’s maternity services will now be alleviated.

MSF is currently upgrading Mrima Health Centre into a health facility that will offer comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care, as well as outpatient services.

The upgrade should be completed by the end of 2017. Services offered will include: antenatal and postnatal clinics, family planning, post-abortion care, caesarean sections, normal deliveries, newborn care, blood storage and transfusion, and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV

In the meantime, MSF has set up a temporary facility, made of shipping containers, to start providing obstetric care to pregnant mothers. The twelve containers have 30 beds, a delivery room, a blood bank, and an operating theatre for obstetric emergencies.

All services provided by MSF are free of charge. The main causes of maternal mortality are haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis, obstructed labour, abortion complications and other indirect causes, for example, HIV/AIDS.

In January and February 2017, 737 babies were delivered in Mrima Health Centre.

Part of MSF’s objective is to offer training support for Ministry of Health staff serving in areas of the country with high maternal mortality rates.

The surgical capacity at Mrima Health Centre aims to reduce the number of emergency obstetric referrals to the Coast Provincial General Hospital, which require taking the ferry.

In January and February 2017, there were 143 caesarean sections carried out in Mrima Health Centre.

The project includes an outreach component, with teams carrying out health promotion activities and also providing support to the peripheral health facilities in Likoni.

During the recent health workers’ strike in Kenya, the maternity faced a significant increase of activity. Lifesaving obstetric care was provided for women who had come from both Likoni and afar.

Mrima Health Centre’s maternity has already become a permanent lifeline for Likoni’s mothers and babies.

MSF began working in Likoni in February 2016, supporting deliveries and referring women with complications to Coast Provincial General Hospital. Construction of the container operating theatre began in late 2016. It was officially functional on 27 January 2017, when the first baby born by caesarean section arrived.

MSF is also providing medical assistance in other areas of Kenya, including in Nairobi’s’ Eastlands area and in Kibera, where the organisation has worked for the last two decades. Additionally, medical teams are working in Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Homa Bay County, Ndhiwa sub-County and are also opening a programme for the treatment and management of non-communicable diseases together with Embu County.


Photos: Yann Libessart /MSF