Impact of Media Coverage on the Uptake of Free Maternity Services in Mwala Constituency
Media has been accused of avoiding public interest issues and instead focusing on making money and ignoring social responsibility to educate and inform. Media organizations are profit making entities who will give editorial space only if one can pay. Key messages could be left out to create room for the more lucrative venture like advertisement. In Kenya‟s mass media system, editors have power and legitimacy to decide on media content. It is difficult for health or science matters to be covered regularly when politics and other news are more sensational. Kenya enjoys a more diverse, liberalized media scene than many other African countries, and therefore stands a good chance in in-depth coverage of reproductive health issues. The study sought to examine the impact of media coverage on the uptake of free maternity services in Machakos County: Mwala constituency. The specific objectives were to evaluate awareness and effectiveness level of free maternity services media campaign on the uptake of free maternity services, to assess the gaps in maternal media campaign on the uptake of free maternity services and to assess attitudes and perception towards the free maternity services in public hospital on the uptake of free maternity services. The study applied descriptive research design which applied both quantitative and qualitative research methods to maximize theoretical implication of the research findings. The target population of the study comprised of the households in Mwala constituency that has 163,032 people. The researcher grouped the population into nine strata based on administrative wards of Mwala constituency namely; Wamunyu, Yathui, Vyulya, Muthetheni, Miu, Masii, Kibauni, Ikalaasa, Mbiuni, Wards of Mwala constituency in Machakos County. Simple Random sampling was used to proportionately select a sample population of 270 respondents from the nine administrative wards which comprised of 8 key informants and 262 household heads. Data was collected through a self-administered questionnaire for the household heads. Focus group discussion was used to collect qualitative data. .Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Qualitative statistics were analyzed using content analysis through developing a framework of themes .Further the study established that media is a powerful mechanism to promote awareness and education of public issues. The study concluded that culture, religion and socio-economic factors affects maternal health care and that there is a positive relationship between attitude, free maternal care services uptake and maternal media coverage. The study recommends that the free maternity policy be all inclusive of men and women to encourage women in attending antenatal clinics from the onset of their pregnancy. To build capacity of medical professional on soft and communication skills to counter negative perception on service delivery. Government to carry out capacity building on traditional birth attendants on best practice of handling emergence and putting referral systems in place. The study recommends for more research to be carried out in other counties to ascertain impact of media coverage on free maternity services uptake.