It’s been over year since the government, through the ministry of health launched the expanded free maternity programme dubbed “Linda mama – Boresha Jamii” programme. The programme meant to improve access and quality of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health services in the country, provides a package of basic health services accessed by all in the targeted population on the basis of need and not ability to pay. Linda mama’s main goal is to achieve universal cases to maternal and child health services and contributes to the country’s progress towards Universal Health Coverage.
Under the programme all pregnant women can access antenatal, delivery and postnatal care free of charge in all public, some faith based and private healthcare facilities national wide. The redesigned initiative expands the network of healthcare providers to include faith based facilities through direct re-imbursement mechanism that pays for number of deliveries reported by the facility to a health insurance plan to be administered by NHIF.
Although the programme is set to position Kenya on the pathway to Universal Health Coverage, lack of awareness about the programme is the biggest challenge that will negatively affect its realization in Kenya especially in the rural areas. Most of the health care workers do not know about the programme and those that do have very limited knowledge of how and when to start implementing the program. In Kilfi County for instance, most of the health care workers have no knowledge of the programme especially in dispensaries where even the facility in-charges have no knowledge of it. If Kenya is to realize Universal Health Coverage, awareness of the government initiative should be made not only to the health care workers in rural areas but also the communities. When the free maternity program was launched in 2013 by president Uhuru Kenyatta, 35% increase in the number of deliveries in public health facilities was registered this means, more than 2,000 women and 30,000 maternal and child deaths were averted by the year 2016. The Linda mama programme if well implemented is set to be a great step towards improving access and quality of maternal, newborn and child health care services in the country as well as attainment of health goals as outlined in the vision 2030 which is to attain the highest possible health standards in a manner responsive to the population needs.
The beneficiaries should be aware of the programme for them to benefit from it. Awareness on what the programme is about, the benefits and how to register should be done especially in the rural areas through public barazas, community and opinion leaders, community dialogues and through health meetings for the programme to be successful.