Poverty a major contributor to the wide disparities in maternal health outcomes in Kenya

By Japheth Mati

That the attainment of Millennium Development Goals 5 will ultimately depend on the progress made in other social and economic goals is clear from the data shown in Table 1. Poverty reduction measures, equitable resource allocation and especially empowerment of women, all come out as critical strategies and necessary preconditions for attainment of improved maternal health in Kenya.

Table 1: Selected maternal health indicators by household wealth status in Kenya

(Source: Extracted from Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2008-9

The level of a woman’s education, a poverty related variable (Figure 1), is also a proximate determinant of the poor maternal health outcomes in Kenya. Taking the example of skilled attendance at childbirth, the 2008-9 KDHS showed that the percentage of deliveries that were attended by a skilled attendant (doctor or nurse/midwife) was lowest among mothers with no education at all (19%), it was slightly above the national average of 44% for women who had completed primary education (49%), and highest among those with secondary education and above (73%).

Figure 1: Level of woman’s education by household wealth status

(Source: Extracted from Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2008-9

Related link:

What are the prospects of achieving ‘skilled attendance’ for all births in Africa?

What’s in the way of achieving improved maternal health in Kenya?

Will the poor in Kenya enjoy the “Right to Health”?

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