Mothers queuing for treatment/ DFID UK via Flickr ; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Social protection through maternal health programmes

Inclusive growth through social protection in maternal health programmes in Kenya

Led by Dr Sonja Merten, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Switzerland

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About the research group

Because health expenditure in the form of out-of-pocket payments is a driver of poverty and a barrier to development, governments seek to provide universal healthcare services. However, this does not translate to universal and equitable access to these services. To ensure affordability of maternal health services, the Government of Kenya introduced vouchers targeting vulnerable women in 2006 and free maternity care in public health facilities in 2013. Due to lack of evidence on the effectiveness of these two interventions, this study compares the effectiveness of both approaches, and how they interact with existing formal and informal social support mechanisms, such as micro-credits, health insurances, or informal kinship obligations.

  • Ministry of Health, Kenya
  • School of Public Health, Maseno University, Kenya
  • University of Bern, Switzerland
Main question

In comparison to the free maternity policy in Kenya, can the voucher system contribute to equitable access to care, better health outcomes, and greater economic resilience at the household level?

Country focus
  • Kenya