Rachael Nakali is a resident of Nariamawoi village in Kalokol, Turkana County. She understands the pain and struggles that women who deliver in the villages go through. Nakali narrates that several of her neighbours and their unborn children have dying while delivering in the village.
"Many women and their children have lost their lives while delivering in the villages because they do not receive proper care during and after delivery," said Nakali.
The mother of seven explains that the deaths shocked her to the core. She feared that she will lose her unborn child. Nakali decided to go to the hospital where she gave birth to her baby.
"As Turkana women, we prefer to give birth while squatting. When I got to the hospital, I found a stool where I could squat and comfortably give birth. I was very impressed as it had the same concept as our cultural beliefs. "
“I appeal to all women to deliver in hospitals. I have delivered in a hospital and I can attest that it is safe to deliver there. If I would give birth again, I would choose the hospital again," said Nakali.
Lodwar County Referral Hospital LCRH introduced a cushioned birth stool, an idea that was borrowed from Karamoja region in the Eastern part of Uganda during the bench-marking tour.
A midwife at LCRH Miriam Momanyi says many women in Turkana are not used to delivering on the bed but instead prefer squatting.
"So far we have done over 200 deliveries using this cultural sensitive stool. The stool has been a blessing because with this, the women feel more comfortable to deliver at the hospital which is safer compared to delivering in the villages," said Momanyi.
A majority of pregnant women in Turkana county experience major complications during labor because they are attended to by untrained midwives in the villages. Some women consider the hospital as a modern facility and therefore are not comfortable going there. Some believe that culturally they are not supposed to attend ante-natal clinic and give birth in hospital.
Turkana County government has built about 288 health facilities that have encouraged hospital births. Dr Gilchrist Lokoel, Turkana Director for Medical Services said the cushioned birth stool will favor women who are culturally fixed minded that they can deliver safely only if they can squat.
“I encourage all pregnant women to deliver in hospitals so that we avoid careless deaths as result of conceiving at home. We now have a cultural sensitive cushioned birth stool that will replace squatting and is safer for both the mother and child," said Lokoel.
Lokoel added that Turkana is losing 54 infants in every 1000 life births. The County Ministry of Health is putting efforts together partners to reduce deaths of mothers and infants during birth.