24 year old Janet lives with her husband near to Pelewa Town – a rural Maasai community in Kajiado County, Kenya – and their two children. She takes care of the family home and livelihood, spending three hours every day looking after the family’s livestock as well as going to collect water and cooking.
When her first baby was born six years ago health facilities were limited and the community relied on a mobile health service visiting once-a-week from Kajiado town, around 50 kilometres away. This meant that many women like Janet living in rural areas didn’t receive vaccinations to protect themselves and their babies against deadly diseases such as maternal and newborn tetanus.
The Piliwa health facility was built in 2009 and offers immunisation, maternity services, health education and treatment for common illnesses, serving the 4,385 residents living in the area. The facility meant that Janet was able to be vaccinated against maternal and newborn tetanus before she had her second baby.
“Now there is the health facility and a doctor so I come,” Janet explains.
Janet also knows the importance of giving birth in safe, clean conditions with a professional midwife or doctor, so when she went into labour with her second baby she walked for almost three kilometres to reach the health facility. An hour after giving birth she was taken home on a motorbike.
“I walked here in labour. The doctor cuts the umbilical cord in a good manner and it means the baby is safe. That makes me feel happy.”
Wilfred Muema has managed the Piliwa health facility since it opened and is encouraging women to come and be vaccinated and also to give birth under his care. Thanks to health education programmes supported by the Pampers Unicef 1 pack = vaccine campaign, vaccination rates are high and he is seeing a steady increase in the number of women giving birth at the health facility.
Wilfred explains: “The mothers here like to give birth at home but it’s not safe and it’s not clean so we try to educate them. Some will walk for up to 20 kilometres to reach the health facility and when they give birth here they enjoy it! If they can’t get here in time, they call me and I will rush to them on my motorbike.”
“We really appreciate having the health facility,” Janet says. “I also tell my friends it’s important to come.”
Since 2006, the Pampers Unicef 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign has helped fund vaccination programmes in countries such as Kenya helping to protect 100 million women and their babies from maternal and newborn tetanus and eliminating the disease in 16 countries. But despite the progress that has been made, more than 85 million women and their newborns around the world are still at risk from contracting the disease because they have not received the vaccines they need to keep themselves safe.