Dr. Jemimah Kariuki leading efforts to reach expectant women amid COVID-19 pandemic
The long-term impact of coronavirus on economic and social systems remains invisible, but experts warn that disruption in health services could reverse Kenya’s gains in maternal and infant mortality.
However, an initiative by a group of medics led by Dr Jemimah Kariuki seeks to minimize the impact of the containment measures, instituted to contain COVID-19 spread.
“COVID-19 has changed the way we have been taking all that is precious for granted….It has not only made us pause, reflect and re-arrange our priorities in life but it has made many of us think harder, and innovate ways of dealing with human sufferings as we come to terms with the induced changes occasioned by the pandemic,” said Dr. Jemimah Kariuki.
Dr. Kariuki is concerned with what the curfew means for hundreds of needy pregnant women who she attends to on daily basis.
Curfew restrictions and limited access to maternal services is the reason Dr. Kariuki decided to use her essential services pass to reach out to expectant mothers.
She put up a tweet calling on pregnant women who needed help during curfew hours to get in touch with her.
Hi any lady in this curfew and Covid time who feels they are unable to reach hospital and they are in labour or have an emergency kindly reach out and I will do my best to intervene. #covid #letscreatesolutions #maternalhealth kindly RT that many can get help.
— Dr. Jemimah Kariuki (@jasminemimz) April 7, 2020
The response she got was overwhelming: calls that were beyond just her call to service. However, her lecturers at the University of Nairobi supported her in getting the help she needed and seven other doctors joined her initiative.
Other sponsors quickly joined the Wheels for Life program when it was apparent there was need for more than just a taxi to reach the ultimate goal.
Between April 28 and May 30 when the toll free number 1196 was launched, over 4000 calls have been made. More than 470 women have received a doctor’s assistance.
Dr. Jemimah hopes to continue with the initiative even after the COVID-19 containment measures are lifted.
Her biggest challenge however has been reaching women in other counties.
“When someone calls the helpline 1196 and they are in Mombasa, you can’t send a taxi so we have to use our contacts there to help,” she told Citizen TV.
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