By Peter Oliver Ochieng
In a bid to encourage women in Bungoma County to give birth in hospitals, birth companions, previously known as (Traditional Birth Attendants – TBAs), will be paid for every pregnant woman they ensure delivers in a health facility as opposed to delivering in homes, which contributes to high mortality rates due to pregnancy related complications.
Each birth companion will be paid Sh300 (about 2.66 US dollars) for every pregnant woman she ensures delivers in hospital, in a move aimed at breaking the cycle of home deliveries in the Western region County.
Speaking at the Mabanga Teachers’ Training College (TTC) when he met the Birth Companions, Wycliffe Wafula Wangamati, the Bungoma County Governor said the money will be drawn from funds the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) pays the County for each hospital delivery.
“For every hospital delivery, NHIF pays the County Sh2, 000 (about 17.75 US dollars). I am directing the County Minister in charge of health to work on a policy starting this December so that whenever a birth companion brings a woman to give birth in hospital, she should be paid 300. NHIF pays us Sh2, 000 for every hospital delivery, which means Sh300 of the Sh2, 000 should be paid to the birth companion,” said the County boss.
Additionally, the governor said the 540 birth companions in the County will be paid a monthly stipend of Sh2, 000, besides being enrolled in the NHIF scheme, to encourage them to promote safe motherhood and general primary healthcare.
“We are putting you on a program known as community health workers whereby starting this December; you will be paid a monthly stipend of Sh2, 000.”
Speaking on behalf of the birth companions, Agnes Kavurani Wambogo appreciated the governor for taking measures geared towards improving their welfare.
“We thank you governor for remembering us. The work we do entails ensuring that pregnant women deliver safely. We walk the journey with children from the time they are born up to when they become adults,” she said.
The birth companions have been trained and mandated to refer and accompany expectant mothers under their care to the nearest health facility for antenatal care or deliveries, in what seems to be a drastic departure from the past where they conducted deliveries themselves, sometimes under the most extreme conditions.
Each of the 540 birth companions have been linked to a health facility for appropriate action, including calling for an ambulance in a case where a mother needs emergency healthcare services.