Credit: Rebekah Morton/Options

Improving maternal and newborn health

Kenya has some of the highest rates of maternal and newborn mortality in the world, and the poorest women and children are the most affected. More than half of women give birth at home without skilled care. Only one in three health facilities provide basic maternity services and only one in ten hospitals provide basic emergency obstetric care. Access to services depends on where women live and their socio-economic status, and the lack of transport and finances often prevents many women from utilising care.

The Maternal and Newborn Improvement (MANI) project is increasing the survival of mothers and newborns by improving the delivery of health services, increasing the uptake of these services, and testing new innovations to catalyse change.

We work in partnership with the Government of Kenya, health workers, community members, the media and partner organisations to improve health outcomes for mothers and newborns. We do this by:

Strengthening the health system in Bungoma county

We are supporting the county government to manage and deliver quality health services for women and newborns, and to promote their use. This includes improving health planning and budgeting, building leadership and governance capacity, increasing capacity to reach universal health coverage, and improved human resources management. We train and support health workers to provide high quality services and to use data to drive quality improvement and decision making. At the community level we provide vouchers for poor women to access free transport to a health facility for delivery, and we re-orient traditional birth attendants to become referral agents for facility delivery. Aligned to national approaches, we engage Community Health Volunteers to provide education and support, and increase dialogue between service providers and communities to promote accountability.

Testing innovations and taking proven approaches to scale

We manage the County Innovation Challenge Fund (CICF), investing in novel ideas that offer life-saving solutions for mothers and newborns. The fund also supports scaling up successful innovations that have demonstrated impact in reducing maternal and newborn mortality. The CICF is open to international and national NGOs, civil- and faith-based organisations and the private sector. It operates in six counties; Bungoma, Garissa, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Turkana, and Embakasi and Kamukunji in Nairobi.

Increasing the visibility of priority maternal newborn health issues in the media

We build the capacity of local TV, radio and print journalists to disseminate key health information to the public, and to build informed dialogue through accurate health reporting and solution-based storytelling. We also work closely with government officials to help them build effective media engagement strategies and communicate with the public more effectively.

Maternal and Newborn Improvement Project


Facilities able to provide EmONC services in 6 sub-counties in Bungoma increased from 1 in 2014 to 29 in 2018

Deliveries assisted by skilled birth attendants in 6 sub-counties in Bungoma increased from 41% in 2014 to 82% in 2018

Distributed transport vouchers to over 42,000 women to reach health facilities for delivery  

Funded by
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