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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - The Pan African Medical Journal
Title Knowledge, attitudes and practices of traditional birth attendants in pastoralist communities of Laikipia and Samburu counties, Kenya: a cross-sectional survey
Volume 25
Issue Suppl 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5390066/

Current efforts to reduce maternal and newborn mortality focus on promoting institutional deliveries with skilled birth attendants (SBAs), and discouraging deliveries at home attended by traditional birth attendants (TBAs). In rural Kenya, semi-nomadic pastoralist communities are underserved by the formal health system, experience high maternal and neonatal mortality, and rely primarily on TBAs for delivery care, despite Government proscription of TBA-assisted births. This study examined the knowledge, attitude and practices of TBAs serving these communities to assess the potential for collaboration between TBAs and SBAs.


A cross-sectional, interviewer-administered survey was conducted among 171 TBAs from Maasai and Samburu pastoralist communities in Laikipia and Samburu counties, Kenya, as part of a larger mixed-methods study in partnership with a local service provider.


BAs were relatively elderly (mean age 59.6 years), and attended an average of 5-6 deliveries per year. A minority (22.2%) had received formal training. They provided antenatal, intra-partum and post-partum care. Most TBA care was non-interventionist, but not necessarily consistent with best practice. Most had encountered birth complications, but knowledge regarding management of complications was sub-optimal. Most had previously referred at least one woman to a health facility (80.1%), were key participants in decision making to refer women (96.5%), and had been present at an institutional delivery (54.4%).


TBAs continue to be key providers of maternal and neonatal healthcare in regions where the formal health system has poor coverage or acceptability. Strengthening existing TBA/SBA collaborations could improve both community links to the formal health system, and the quality of care provided to pastoralist women, while remaining consistent with current Government policy.

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