Litigating to ensure access to quality maternal health care for women and girls in Kenya
Access to comprehensive reproductive health care for women and girls, including access to quality maternal health services remains a challenge in Kenya. A recent government enquiry assessing close to 500 maternal deaths that occurred in 2014 revealed gaps in the quality of maternal care, concluding that more than 90% of the women who had died had received “suboptimal” maternal care. In Kenya, the Center for Reproductive Rights (the Center) has undertaken public interest litigation among other strategies to challenge human rights violations and systematic failures within the health sector. In 2014, before the High Court of Bungoma in Western Kenya, the Center filed a case on behalf of Josephine Majani who had been neglected and abused by the staff of the Bungoma County Referral Hospital, a public health facility where she had gone to deliver in 2013. This commentary addresses the situation of maternal health care in Kenya and the actions leading to litigation that was specifically aimed at enabling access to quality maternal health care. It provides an analysis of some of the outcomes of the litigation and highlights the implications thereof on implementation of maternal health care in Kenya and beyond.