Newborn Health – Collaborative Newborn Support Project

Newborn Health – Collaborative Newborn Support Project

Newborn mortality is a serious health problem in Bungoma County, Kenya, with a rate of 33 deaths per 1000 live births against a national average of 22 per 1000 live births (KDHS 2014).  Approximately 50% of mothers in Bungoma County deliver at home. This puts babies, at risk of infections and death. Poor neonatal infrastructure, as well as negative cultural barriers, complicates the matter. The collaborative newborn support project implemented by Fountain Africa Trust in collaboration with Mount Kenya University and the County Ministry of Health in Bungoma was designed to address this gap.

Project launched by Bungoma County CEC for Heath, Hon Stephen Kokonya (3rd from left); Mr. Bernard Mureka – Chief Executive Officer of Health (extreme left); Ms. Alice Natecho Director Fountain Africa Trust (2nd from left); Dr. Jesse Gitaka of Mount Kenya University (4th from left); Dr. Sylvester Mutoro – County Director of Health (2nd from right); and Mr. Humphreys Mwambeo of Mount Kenya University (extreme right).

Project Objectives

  1. To reduce neonatal mortality
  2. To increase the utilization of newborn services


Upgrade newborn units in County and Sub-County hospitals in Bungoma County. 

Hospitals targeted included: Bungoma County Hospital; Webuye County Hospital: Kimilili Sub-County Hospital: Chwele Sub-County Hospital; Mt. Elgon Sub-County Hospital; Sirisia Sub-County Hospital; Bumula Sub-County Hospital; and Naitiri Sub-County Hospital.

Train health workers in newborn care.

Newborn Units

Brand new Kimilili Hospital Newborn Unit

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Baby cots at Webuye County Hospital Newborn Unit

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Functional Phototherapy machine and room heaters at Webuye County Hospital Newborn Unit reduced unnecessary referral of babies

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New incubators at Bungoma County Referral Hospital improved the management of preterm babies in the county.

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Call Centre services

Mothers identified during pregnancy through Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and ANC clinics were followed-up through the Call Centre to ensure they deliver in health facilities and the health of their newborns monitored. The Call Centre offered personalized consultations to pregnant and mothers who had just given birth to ensure the wellbeing of mother and baby. Mothers and babies found with complications were referred to the nearest health facility for appropriate care.

collaborative newborn support

The Call Centre reached over 10,000 mothers with personalized health consultations in 2018 to improve care of newborn babies at home. Sick babies identified during consultations where referred to the nearest appropriate health facility for treatment.

Call Centre Case study – A baby at last!

The project team identified Diana through the Call Center during her 5th pregnancy. At only 22 years old, Diana had miscarried four times and had no living child. The collaborative newborn support project enrolled pregnant women in the Call Centre support during pregnancy, to build a relationship before the baby is born and ensure that mothers were able to access antenatal care. When asked by the Call Centre staff what had caused her four miscarriages, Diana said she didn’t know.

Diana was encouraged by the Call Centre clinical officer, to go back to the various facilities where she had accessed her previous antenatal care to find out more information that may have caused her to lose her pregnancy. She learned that there was conflicting documentation at the health facilities about the rhesus factor in her blood tests. Women with rhesus negative blood require specialized care to protect their unborn babies, including a specific injection, which Diana had never received.

The call center staff provided education over the phone to Diana and her husband about how the rhesus factor works, and the implications for the current pregnancy. Diana decided to deliver her baby at the County Referral Hospital so she could get confirmatory blood testing and specialized treatment. With the care that she received at the Referral Hospital, Diana delivered a bouncing baby boy and is thrilled to be a mother.

Diana and her baby

Diana and her baby

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