At 7.00 a.m. on a sunny Nairobi day, Mukuru Health Centre in Embakasi was already a hive of activity. Tents were being decorated, chairs arranged, branding materials erected and audio visual equipment set up for a very special event. On this day, apart from its important daily work of serving on average 100 mothers and newborns that stream through its doors, the Centre was hosting dignitaries and guests involved in the healthcare sector in Kenya - to launch the County Innovation Challenge Fund.
This £16 million fund is supported by DFID and challenges global or local actors in the maternal and newborn health space to bring forward their new or scalable innovations that will help the counties of Bungoma, Homa Bay, Garissa, Kakamega, Nairobi (Embakasi and Kamukunji areas only) and Turkana to reduce their high maternal and neonatal mortality rates.
As guests arrived and registered, the formalities started off with Dr Owino in charge of the Centre and the Head of DFID Kenya, Lisa Philips, taking a tour of the facility to get a real look at the benefits, challenges and opportunities of delivering healthcare solutions to those at the lowest levels of income.
This was followed by addresses to the guests by several speakers who reinforced the message that with devolution, the time is now for meaningful change and investment to bring down mortality rates in the six counties of Kenya, and that the mothers and newborn children being lost are not merely statistics. Organisations such as private sector companies, NGO’s, CBO’s and so on were challenged to provide innovative solutions that deliver meaningful development impact in this sector.
The proceedings did not disrupt the centre’s important work for the day. Pregnant women, young mothers and their newborns continued to stream into the facility to get the medical attention they required.
With this, The County Innovation Challenge Fund was officially launched and the first competition opened.
CICF is managed by a team, under the MANI project funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) supporting the Government of Kenya’s efforts to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. The MANI Project is led by Options Consultancy Services Limited, KPMG International Development Advisory Services is the CICF Fund Manager and Population Council is the CICF Technical Manager.