Right to Care
Engaging Health Workers and Communities in Ensuring Women's Right to Safe Pregnancy and Childbirth
Organization: Family Care International (FCI) Kenya
Project location: Yatta District, Kenya
Level of implementation: Local
This project aims to strengthen the delivery of maternity care in Yatta District, Kenya, and to increase women's access to these services. Maternal health in Kenya has steadily been worsening during the past two decades, and the use of skilled maternity care during childbirth is declining. A range of social, economic, and geographic factors contribute to this decline, including women's low social status and education levels; their lack of information about health and rights, autonomy, decision-making power, and access to resources; and cultural norms that encourage home birth or discourage the use of facility-based care. Equally important, however, is an inadequately resourced health system with serious gaps in the availability and quality of maternity care. This constellation of factors contributes to violations and disregard of women's basic rights.
The "Right to Care" project utilizes a human rights approach to increase accountability amongst duty bearers, particularly those within the health sector, and to inform and engage rights holders in ensuring maternal survival. Through the project, FCI Kenya is conducting a series of sensitization activities and workshops to engage health facility staff in understanding human rights dimensions of maternal health service delivery and identifying protective measures that they can put in place at their worksite. Similar sessions will be held with various community leaders to increase their involvement in promoting and ensuring women's access to the essential maternal health services to which they are entitled, with a special focus on low-income and rural women.
The project operates at the service delivery and community level, targeting health facility staff and managers, and community leaders as its main direct beneficiaries. While maternal mortality is increasingly being addressed as a human rights issue at international and national levels, few interventions to date have directly engaged health workers and community members in addressing maternal survival in the context of human rights.
New resource. This project developed a "rights matrix" that creates a link between the Kenya Ministry of Health Service Charter and the international and regional human rights instruments. The matrix helped in promoting acceptance of the human rights project within the health system. It also made the health workers obliged to uphold human rights related to maternal health.