Kenya on Tuesday launched an expanded free maternal care program in a bid to achieve universal access for maternal care.
Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopa Mailu told a media briefing in Nairobi that all pregnant women will, under the program, be able to access antenatal, delivery and postnatal care free of charge in all public as well as some private health-care facilities nationwide.
"The aim of the free maternal care program is to reduce the financial burden to families as well as help Kenya achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," Mailu said.
The program plans to scale up the free maternity care project which was introduced in 2013.
Kenya plans to use the National Health Insurance Fund to achieve universal maternal care.
According to the ministry of health, the free maternal care program will be achieved in two phases and be fully operational by mid 2017.
The CS noted that phase one will enroll 5,073 health facilities to offer free health services while phase two, which commences in February 2017, will rope in 6566 health facilities to provide ante-natal care and post-natal care.
Mailu noted that women are the sole income earners in nearly two thirds of all households in Kenya.
"So investing in the health of pregnant women has a spill-over macro-economic effect to communities and the economy," Mailu said.