Nairobi, Kisii, Kiambu, Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties top in child births in hospitals, an indication of success in safety campaigns.
The five counties are the only counties which recorded over 74 per cent of children born in hospitals, a survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed.
In the 2015/16 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey women were asked the place where their children aged five years and below were delivered.
Nationally, the proportion of children born in health facilities — hospitals, health centres, dispensaries and clinics — improved significantly to 65.3 per cent in 2015/16 compared to 39.1 per cent reported in the 2005/6 review. Free maternity programmes have helped to boost safer hospital deliveries and reduced maternal deaths.
Child delivery outside hospital is a risky gamble, especially in cases where expectant women face unforeseen complications. Out-of-hospital births tend to involve less specialised interventions such as Caesarean section, leaving women and the unborn at high risk of injury or fatality should complications arise.
An estimated 31.3 per cent of the children were delivered at home, an improvement from 53.9 per cent recorded in the 2005/06 report.
The survey showed that in rural areas the proportion of children born at home was 40.7 per cent compared to 13.3 per cent in urban areas.
“The county with the lowest proportion of children born at home was Kirinyaga at 3.8 per cent while Wajir, Mandera, Samburu and Marsabit had over 70 per cent of children born at home. Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Kisii counties recorded over 90 per cent of children born in a heath facility” KNBS said.
Statistics further showed that more deliveries are now handled by trained medical personnel which is a plus in attaining safer child births. In the absence of such personnel, pregnant women often rely on themselves, traditional birth attendants, friends, and relatives for delivery.
“Overall, the proportion of births assisted by trained medical personnel (doctors, mid-wives and nurses) improved from 39 per cent in 2005/06 to 70.2 per cent in 2015/16,” KNBS said.
The proportion of children born with the assistance of trained medical personnel in urban areas was 87.5 per cent compared to 61.1 per cent in rural areas.
Counties with over 90 per cent of the deliveries assisted by trained health personnel included Mombasa, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kisii and Nairobi.
In contrast, Wajir and Mandera had less than 30 per cent of children born with the assistance of trained medical personnel. Turkana County had the highest proportion of self-assisted births at 34.5 per cent.
The proportion of children delivered with the assistance of a traditional birth attendant in rural areas was 25.6 per cent compared to 7.8 per cent in urban areas.
Wajir, Mandera and Samburu had over 60 per cent of the births assisted by a traditional birth attendant.
The low hospital births among pastoral communities may be partly linked to inadequate health facilities and personnel in the regions they live in.
Families in pastoral counties are also polygamous, which puts a strain on resources such as healthcare.