Date of Award

5-1-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Africana Women's Studies

First Advisor

Professor Josephine Bradley

Abstract

This study examines the conflicting and differing political-economic crisis facing Kenya over time in an effort to explain people’s health and, especially women’s health in the areas of maternal mortality and morbidity. In that respect, this study has particularly assessed structural adjustment policies instituted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in order to determine how they might have exacerbated the health conditions of women in Kenya.

Since maternal mortality and morbidity in Kenya have escalated under structural adjustment policies, this study used two methodological approaches to assess the health situation: (1) the historical-comparative approach and (2) interviews with appropriate medical personnel. Basically, the historical approach allowed for a historical investigation of the imposition of colonial rule and the state policies on the general welfare of the Kenyan people, including the health care system. Interviews were used to assess specific behavioral patterns, conditions and circumstances related to the provision of health care services.

Numerous factors such as the discrepancy between the growth in population and medical care, unsafe and clandestine abortions due to laws that prohibit abortion in Kenya, the problems of unmet need and poverty influence maternal mortality and morbidity. While the above explanations are relevant, it is important to note that the following factors are also relevant:

1. The colonial legacy is a factor.

2. The level of postcolonial appropriations to the health system which has declined over time; and

3. Post-1986 pressures placed on the government by the International Financial Institutions through structural adjustment policies.

Conclusions drawn from the findings establish that, while other underlying endogenous causes have played an adverse role in the maternal health of Kenyans in particular, the problem has been exacerbated by the exogenous factors of structural adjustment policies.

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