Catholic Medical Mission Board Makes Impactful Move in the Fight against Maternal Mortality

New York, New York, Jun 09, 2022 — The Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) is celebrating the newly-built maternity ward in the rural Kitui South Sub County of Kenya. Benefiting an estimated population of 2,500, CMMB staff have reported double the number of women seeking antenatal and skilled delivery since the facility opened. It is one step forward in the fight against maternal mortality. 

Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) celebrates the opening of a brand-new maternity ward, equipped to serve a rural community in Kenya with an estimated population of 2,500. This spring, CMMB joined the Kitui County Ministry of Health and Sanitation to officially welcome mothers and newborns for services at the facility, which was funded by CMMB’s Children and Mothers Partnerships program (CHAMPS). 

Around the world, the maternal death rate remains startlingly high and disproportionally affects impoverished communities. According to the most recent data, 94% of maternal deaths in a single year occurred in resource-poor areas of the world. Even more unsettling is the fact that with access to proper care, these deaths can be often avoided.    

CMMB’s work in Kitui South Sub County has encouraged an increased demand for maternal and child health services, largely thanks to the efforts of CMMB-supported Community Health Volunteers. These individuals travel long distances, often by foot, to reach vulnerable households in their communities. In addition to providing basic medical treatment and support, they spread awareness and encourage women to seek essential maternal and newborn health services.  

“Opening the maternity ward was a real joy as it was a beautiful place to support women during the birth process and to welcome newborns in a clean and safe setting to begin their journey,” said Mary Beth Powers, CMMB president and CEO. “Our community health workers encourage women to give birth in the facility with a skilled provider rather than the prior tradition of delivering at home, and the ceremony helped introduce the community to the quality care that would now be available to them. So, while it was a great celebration for CMMB and our Ministry of Health partners, it really was an opportunity to inspire the community to give mothers and newborns the best start in life.”   

Prior to the facility’s opening, women in the surrounding communities faced several barriers to health access, including having to travel long distances to the nearest health facility. As a result, home births remained common throughout the county, which can lead to life-threatening complications for both mom and newborn.  

“Kalambani community is classified as a hard-to-reach community as distance to the nearest health facility is an average of 15 KM,” said Caroline Wangire, CMMB project assistant in Kenya. “The community is generally poor with most families lacking a reliable source of income. This area has a difficult terrain and roads are commonly cutoff by runoff water from neighboring counties,” she said.  

The new facility will ease the travel burden for women in both Kitui South Sub County and Kitui East Sub County. Since opening, CMMB staff have reported double the number of women seeking antenatal and skilled delivery services. In addition, the facility has encouraged an increase in child health services, including routine immunization, growth monitoring, and deworming.   

“Delivering my baby in this new facility has been a blessing,” said a new mother, who recently received care at the facility. “I really lack the best words to thank CMMB for remembering us as a community after the long wait for modern maternity. Thanks, a billion times, for touching our lives. Indeed, there is hope for mothers in our area and beyond— asante sana [thank you].”   

For 110 years, CMMB has responded to some of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The international, faith-based NGO works to strengthen health systems in remote communities and operates locally in Haiti, Peru, Zambia, Kenya, and South Sudan. To mark over a century of serving, CMMB has selected “A Call to Mission” as its theme for this milestone year.  

Contributions make it possible for CMMB to continue supporting women and children with life-saving care. Donations are welcome at 

About Catholic Medical Mission Board: 

CMMB provides long-term medical and development aid to communities affected by poverty and unequal access to healthcare. Focusing on women’s and children’s health, we deliver sustainable health services in Peru, Haiti, Kenya, South Sudan, and Zambia. For over a century, we have worked to strengthen and support communities through healthcare programs and initiatives, the placement of volunteers, and the distribution of medicines and medical supplies. Over the last 10 years, CMMB’s Medical Donations Program has distributed more than $5 billion worth of medicines and medical supplies to 83 countries across the globe.