In the photo: Kitui County Deputy Governor H.E. Julius Malombeinspected the newly built and equipped newborncare unit at Ikanga Sub- County.

Newborn Babies to Benefit from Nearby Quality Healthcare Following Delivery 

NAIROBI, Kenya (Nov. 28, 2022) – Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), a faith-based global health organization, opened a newborn care unit on Nov. 24 at the Ikanga Sub-County Hospital in Kitui County. The unit, located in rural, under-resourced Kitui South Sub-County can accommodate up to 30 newborns who require urgent medical attention. Before the unit’s construction, newborns with birth asphyxia and life-threatening infections had to be transported to referral hospitals 30 – 60 miles away. Most of these newborns did not survive the journey or lost their lives soon after. 

“The first hours, days, and weeks of a newborn baby’s life are critical, especially for baby’s experiencing complications,” said Dr. James Kisia, country director for CMMB Kenya. “This newborn care unit will allow babies to get the care they need right away—and save lives. Before, mothers and babies had to travel to the Mutomo Mission Hospital or Kitui County Referral Hospital for support—an arduous journey that stole precious time or that families could not afford to take.”  

The newly built and equipped newborn care unit will provide critical health services like proper umbilical cord care to avoid infections; oxygen therapy for babies facing respiratory distress; light therapy and blood transfusions to treat jaundice. In addition, trained health staff at the newborn care unit will offer mothers coaching on skin-to-skin contact through kangaroo mother care and will monitor vital signs such as body temperature, oxygen concentration and weight management for preterm and premature newborn babies.  

Infant Health Statistics* in Kitui County Paint a Grim Picture 

  • Neonatal mortality in Kitui County in Kenya is at 24 deaths per 1,000 live births. 
  • The most common cause of newborn deaths in Kitui South Sub-County is birth asphyxia (which requires appropriate equipment and skilled health care personnel to attend to), and neonatal sepsis.  
  • Around 40 babies are born at the Ikanga Sub-County Hospital each month, and at least seven out of 10 of these newborns will require newborn care to achieve optimal health, according to county health data. 
  • In Kitui County, 358 infants died within the first 28 days in 2021, while 241 infants lost their lives in 2022. Newborn infections, premature births and birth asphyxia all contribute to these early and tragic deaths.  

This is the third newborn care center that CMMB has renovated and opened in Kitui County over the past two years. In 2021, CMMB opened newborn care units at the Mutomo Mission Hospital and the Ikutha Level IV hospital.  

CMMB Kenya is seeking to reduce high rates of maternal and child death in Kitui South Sub-County by providing life-saving medical care to pregnant women and newborns through its Children and Mothers Partnerships program (CHAMPS). 


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 Haiti, Kenya, Peru, 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. 

*Data sources:  

SDG 3:  Link  

DHIS: (Provided by the child health coordinator in Kitui County) 

  • The infant mortality rate in Kitui county is 24.9 per 1000 live births 
  • Common conditions that contribute to newborn deaths: Asphyxia, sepsis, and prematurity 
  • The number of children born at Ikanga sub-county hospital: 40 per month. Translates to approximately 480 newborns per year. 
  • The number of children needing newborn care at Ikanga sub-county hospital: approximately 7 out of 10 newborns in a month. 
  • 5 out of 40 live births usually have asphyxia in Ikanga sub-county hospital The most common cause of mortality is asphyxia and newborn infections 
  • 4 out of 40 live births usually are born with low birthweight at Ikanga sub-county hospital 
  • Infant mortality rate in Kitui county in 2014: 47 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality rate in Kitui county in 2022: 24.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.