The National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) and the Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), launched the first Kenyan University Research Chairs (URC) programme in early 2015. The innovative programme assists universities to improve their contribution to socio-economic development. This is achieved through research capacity building and collaborations and partnerships.

The first Research Chair was awarded to Prof. Fabian Esamai of Moi University after a competitive process in March 2015. The project is on Health Systems and is titled; An innovative Maternal and Child Health care delivery system through Community Health Workers and skilled health works in collaboration with non-health stakeholders.

The long-term objective of this project is to evaluate the impact of an “Enhanced Health Care (EHC)” delivery care system on antenatal care attendance, health facility deliveries, low birth weight and premature deliveries. Basic emergency maternal and newborn care services at the levels 2,3, and 4 facilities. The project adopted the FLTR (Find, Link, Treat and Retain) strategy to support the successful implementation of the Enhanced Health Care. The project has two intervention sites: Kabula in Bungoma County and Obekai in Busia County.

The project is now in its final year and has resulted in an increase in antenatal care attendance, an increase in health facility deliveries, a reduction in low birth weight and premature birth and subsequent reduction in maternal, infant and neonatal mortality. One key innovation during the project has been use of an appropriate ambulance (pictured) provided by the project to respond to emergency situations.