low rate of institutional deliveries, due to transport problems and lack of infrastructure, but also due to cultural prejudices and resistance against giving birth outside the family circle. One of the ways to facilitate and encourage institutional deliveries is the establishment of ‘maternity shelters’ or ‘maternity waiting homes’: facilities where future mothers can spend the last few days of their pregnancy close to a maternity hospital, so that they are assured of timely professional care during the delivery. This type of facilities exists in many African countries, but often the functioning is not optimal and the occupancy rate is much lower than it could be. ICRH launched a project in Kenya, aimed at promoting the use of maternity waiting homes and improving their functioning.
Activities consist in:
-Informing en sensitizing community leaders, future mothers, their partners and facilities, and the community in general about the purpose and the importance of maternity waiting homes;
-Reinforcing the functioning of a number of selected homes;
-Looking, together with the staff and management of the selected homes, for ways to improve the service delivery and to provide health education on nutrition, family planning and infections to the women staying in the homes.
The maternity waiting homes that were selected for the project are located in Malindi and Kilifi in Kenya. If the project turns out to be successful, it will be rolled out to other locations and other countries.