Integration of Health Services is Key to Saving Women’s and Children’s Lives

When my sister-in-law Angelina was six months pregnant, she went to a health facility for a routine antenatal care visit. This was not an easy thing to do, however. She lives in rural Kenya and in order to reach the facility situated 15 kilometres away, she sold her pig. With this money she was able to pay her way to and from the facility.

At the facility, due to the long queues and the low number of health providers, she and the other pregnant women were given group counselling about the importance of delivering their babies in a health facility and, without much attention to the individual needs and questions of the women, the staff quickly cleared the queue.

Angelina felt discouraged and feared that she would take up too much of the health provider's time if she tried to discuss the terrible pain she had in her stomach over the last few days. So she went back home, willing herself to keep going through the pain. The pain made it difficult to perform her household chores, including fetching water from the well and getting firewood to prepare meals for her family.

The next day, these pains persisted but she did not have any money to go back to the health facility. By evening, the situation had deteriorated and she died that night. Later, it was discovered that the foetus had died intra uterine and this was the cause of her pain and eventual death.

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