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First Maternity Clinic in One of Africa’s Largest Informal Settlements Marks Inaugural Anniversary

The first maternity center in an informal settlement in Kenya marked its one-year anniversary in operation with additional funding to continue providing valuable healthcare to women and children. It was also recently recognized by the Gates Foundation for its ongoing work even during the coronavirus pandemic.

Founded in September of 2019 through CFK (Carolina for Kibera) and funded by generous global donations from various foundations and individual donors, Tabitha Maternity Home provides health care services to pregnant women, newborns, infants and young children in Kibera, one of the largest and most densely populated disenfranchised communities in Africa just outside of Nairobi, with over 350,000 people.

“Tabitha Maternity Home is helping residents of Kibera at the most crucial time of their lives, improving their long-term health for years to come,” said Hillary Omala, Kenya-based executive director of CFK. “Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, providing these maternal, neo-natal and child health services couldn’t be more important. Good health starts before birth.”

The maternity center now employs 13 nurse midwives, three support staffers and a data clerk, and is fully licensed and accredited through Kenya’s government and private medical practice authorities. With a 15-bed capacity, the maternity center has served over 2,200 patients and conducted over 400 deliveries with zero maternal deaths. This is an achievement in Sub-Saharan Africa, where women giving birth have a 94 percent survival rate, according to figures provided by the United Nations. The maternity center is accredited by the government-led Kenya National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Tabitha Maternity Home’s staff members were recently acknowledged as Frontline Heroes by the Gates Foundation for ensuring their continuity of care during the pandemic. The clinic has initiated social distancing protocols, regulated the number of patients it serves while also regularly testing staff, equipping them with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and providing ample opportunities for hand-washing.

To maximize accessibility, the maternity center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is centrally located. Operating one of the few free ambulances in Kibera, CFK facilitates transportation while engaging with community leaders to ensure the security and safety of all its patients.

The maternity center was funded in part through a more than $300,000 launch-and-growth grant from an anonymous donor with an additional support grant to match of $300,000 from the Sall Family Foundation.

CFK also operates three additional health facilities: The Young Health and Wellness Centre, the Lishe Bora Mtaani Nutrition Centre, and the Tabitha Medical Clinic, which has a long-standing partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Like CFK’s Tabitha Medical Clinic, the maternity center is named after the late CFK co-founder and Kiberan nurse, Tabitha Atieno Festo, who established the organization’s first clinic with only $26 and a dream of providing health care to women and children in Kibera.

“Pre-natal, newborn and infant care are some of the most cost-effective health care solutions available,” added Omala. “They’re not just the right thing to do. They’re also the most efficient and effective ways to improve the lives of residents of Kibera for years to come.”

About CFK

Founded in 2001, CFK empowers residents of Kibera, one of the largest and most densely populated informal settlements in Africa, to provide world-class medical care, educational and job training programs, and mentorship and advocacy for young girls in the community.

Through a participatory development approach, CFK works directly with residents of Kibera to bring new opportunities to improve lives and alleviate poverty.

This year, staff members at CFK’s new Tabitha Maternity Home were acknowledged by the Gates Foundation as Frontline Heroes for ensuring continuity of care during the pandemic.

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