The establishment of a maternity wing at South Ngariama Health Centre in Mwea, Kirinyaga County, has marked a transformative moment for maternal healthcare in the region.

Opened in October last year by Governor Anne Waiguru, the facility has swiftly become a cornerstone for expectant mothers, offering a safe and professional environment for childbirth.

Governor Waiguru has heralded the maternity wing as a critical development in the county's healthcare system, underscoring its role in reducing home births and improving maternal and neonatal health outcomes.

"The South Ngariama Maternity wing offers comprehensive services, including antenatal, postnatal, and mother and child health services. Our specialists ensure continuous care for both mothers and children up to five years after delivery," Waiguru stated.

She emphasised that the facility is pivotal in preventing neonatal morbidity and mortality, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals on health.

Serving a population of 7,000 residents from remote villages, the health centre has significantly improved access to maternal services.

Previously, women had to travel nearly 10 kilometres to distant hospitals.

In just five months, the new wing has facilitated over 60 successful deliveries, seen 250 women attend antenatal clinics—a substantial rise from the previous year's 229—and increased postnatal clinic attendance to 359 mothers from 107 in 2022.

Family planning services have also reached 658 women.

Nurse-in-charge Evelyn Kahare highlighted the surge in patient numbers, attributing it to increased awareness and the availability of specialised care.

She noted that the facility has helped prevent many home births, aiming for zero home deliveries with the support of skilled personnel.

Community Health Promoters (CHPs) have been crucial in this success, identifying expectant mothers and ensuring they attend necessary clinics and deliver in the hospital.

Phyllis Karinga, a CHP, reported significant improvements in maternal health practices since the wing's opening, noting that prior home births often led to severe complications.

She thanked the County Government for training and stipends that have boosted their effectiveness.

Village elder Stephen Kinyua echoed the positive changes in the community, while beneficiary Emily Wanjiku described the facility as a boon for local mothers, greatly reducing travel costs and providing excellent care and nutrition.

The South Ngariama Health Centre is part of Governor Waiguru’s broader initiative to strengthen primary health systems in Kirinyaga County, with 20 dispensary projects completed in the last three years. The maternity wing stands as a testament to the significant improvements in accessible healthcare under her leadership.