Addressing the maternal health needs of the nearly 60 percent of urban residents who live in slums or slum-like conditions will be a critical step to improving maternal health indicators of a rapidly urbanizing Kenya, said Catherine Kyobutungi, director of health systems and challenges at the African Population Health Research Center in Nairobi.
“In some respects, [the urban poor] are doing better than rural communities, but in other ways they are behind,” said Kyobtungi. But, she said, there are many unique opportunities to improve maternal health in slums: “With these very high densities, you do have advantages; with very small investments, you can reach many more people.”
Output-based voucher schemes – in which women pay a small fee for a voucher that entitles them to free, high-quality antenatal care, delivery services, and family planning – have been implemented to help poor, urban women access otherwise expensive services. But poor attitudes towards health care workers, transportation barriers, and high rates of crime still prevent some women from taking advantage of these vouchers, said Kyobtungi.