Jacaranda Health: Improving Maternal Healthcare in Nairobi

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By: Emily Puckart, Program Associate, MHTF

Jacaranda Health is combining business and clinical innovations to create mobile health clinics with a high standard maternity care for women located in the peri-urban areas of Nairobi and I recently visited their office and mobile clinic in Nairobi.

Jacaranda’s mobile clinics are impressive feats of collaboration, ingenuity, and commitment to provide a cohesive, quality healthcare service for Kenyan women. The mobile clinic moves around to different urban areas of Nairobi on different days, reaching whole groups of women who may live far from quality maternity care or are unable to access care due to financial or security concerns. In under an hour, I watched the Jacaranda team assemble a reception tent (that can also become a private exam room if the site is lacking space), set up waiting and exam rooms and open their doors to the first eager patients of the day.

During the policy dialogue I had attended earlier in the week I heard many times that Kenyan women wanted quality, respectful health care that offered integrated maternal health services, and encouraged the participation of men in maternal healthcare. The Jacaranda Health nurses and receptionists are crucial in fulfilling some of these hopes I heard expressed during the policy dialogues.

Jacaranda nurses are trained to listen to their patients and provide a full range of maternity services for Kenyan women. In their Jacaranda purple scrubs, the nurses offer a complete ANC profile including tests for blood type, HIV, and various sexually transmitted infections. Since the same nurses conduct the physical exam, testing, and counseling, the patients are able to receive continuous quality care from one person, supporting patients’ trust in their healthcare providers, and hopefully encouraging return visits to maintain their health during pregnancy. The nurses and receptionists are heavily involved in highlighting areas for training to keep their skill set sharp, and I watched as medical case debriefs led into discussions and hands on training for appropriately and quickly dealing with emergency case patients.

Differentiating itself from health facilities where women must often wait a whole day for antenatal care, Jacaranda offers women specific appointment times so they can more easily work care into their already busy lives. These specific appointment times also have the potential to encourage male partners to accompany the mothers to their specific appointments. Further, after the exam, during the heath counseling section of the appointment, there are three chairs in each of the exam rooms: one for the nurse, one for their patient, and one for their birth partner, or male partner. That third chair implicitly encourages women to involve others in their care.

I was excited and encouraged by what I saw in Nairobi, a passionate group of men and women making a difference in Kenyan women’s access to quality maternity care.