Kenya: Lodwar Clinic and Turkana Drought Relief and Mobile Medical Outreach Project
Combating a Wider Range of Diseases: Q1 2016
June 06, 2016
Romano K. Funo and Deanna Boulard
Summary of Activities
During the first quarter of 2016, 6 medical outreaches were conducted. The activities successfully treated 3,324 patients. Having adequate medical personnel and medicine stores has enabled us to treat more patients and combat a wider range of diseases on a regular basis, especially in the remote villages of Turkana. The project’s target population is estimated at 250,000 and rising. The improved quality and regularity of medication purchase from MEDS in Nairobi through RMF/MMI funding has allowed the clinics to be conducted and improved the quality of the service. Previous to RMF/MMI involvement, medication was scarce and depended on availability of specific donations each month.
Personnel and Stores
Having adequate medical personnel and medicine stores has enabled us to treat more patients and combat a wider range of diseases on a regular basis, especially in the remote villages of Turkana.
Access to Medical Care
This quarter, a total of 3,975 patients were treated at our 6 mobile outreach clinics. The project has safeguarded these community members from herbal poisoning and the dubious, expensive medical attention of witch doctors.
191 Children and Mothers
Because of our presence, children under five and pregnant mothers can now access vaccination services in the remote villages of Turkana, hence acquiring herd immunity against prevalent diseases.
Through partnership with other health agencies, the project provided nutrition supplements to 275 beneficiaries, which were comprised of 172 children and 103 pregnant and lactating mothers, some with special needs.
Advanced Medical Care
Using the program’s ambulance, patients are given an exceptional opportunity to access advanced medical care such has HAART, TB, eye surgery, delivery, physiotherapy, and other laboratory services which cannot be easily offered.
After responding to a September 7th, 2009 NY Times article by Jeffrey Gettleman, which highlighted the life threatening impact of the drought in Northern Kenya, Real Medicine Foundation coordinated a supply chain for water and food aid, and medical support to the region. We were able to provide a 4-week supply of food and water to 4,500 persons in severely drought affected regions of Turkana, Kenya where it had not rained in 4 years.
- Provide Medicines and Medical supplies to meet the needs of the targeted population
- Increase Mobile/Outreach Clinics in the remote villages
- Provide Medical Services at the Health Facility in Lodwar Town:
- Supporting the physical/medical needs of the targeted population
- Home visiting
- Referrals of patients needing advanced care to tertiary care hospital, and HIV and TB government clinics
- Teaching about and providing nutritious food
Click to enlarge
On Thursday, January 25, 2016 at 1:36 PM, when staff members were just ready for their lunch break, a 39-year-old mother named Nakaalei Selina, from Narewa Village (the village surrounding our clinic) arrived with tears rolling down her cheeks. She was holding her 3-year-old girl, Bebi Lokong, firmly against her chest.
The mother was distraught and could not speak. According to the grandmother who accompanied her, Bebi went into a coma in the house approximately 6 hours before, when the mother had left the house in search of food. The mother, however, had no doubt that her child was dead and would not let the grandmother give the whole story.
Quickly, the nurse in charge and his team did a brief medical examination and observation of Bebi. The child’s temperature was extremely high (39.9 degrees Celsius). Then the nurse administered intravenous treatment, infusions, and tepid sponging. After approximately one hour, Bebi opened her eyes and took the paracetamol (Tylenol) syrup given by the nurse in charge. The mother was so grateful to donors and such dedicated staff within her reach.
Bebi was on IV infusions and observed for 2 hours in the clinic, after which she was taken home, to return the next 4 days to continue with intravenous injections. Now Bebi is reported to be recovered and doing well. This is an example of the great benefits the health project provides to our target population of Turkana, which currently stands at 250,000 and keeps rising.
In February 2016, a pupil in seventh grade who had not gone to school for 2 terms was brought to our clinic for surgical toilet. His wound had gone untreated for 6 months and was profusely oozing pus and producing a bad odor. The young man said he could not go to a health facility because of lack of funds, so he was treated at home with herbs for 6 months.
The wound was worsening to an extent that he could not walk, but had to crawl. This young man’s healing was also hindered by his community’s belief that because his uncle’s wives were pregnant, the young man could not heal until they give birth. After he was brought to the clinic by a friend who had been treated there, this young man was able to return to class after 5 days – completely healed.
Public Health Education
Toward the end of December 2015 and the beginning of January 2016, Lodwar Clinic experienced a big change: the nurse manager went back to school and 2 staff members left the project on January 12, 2016.
Early this quarter, in January and February, the program faced a critical medication shortage. The government medications we ordered never arrived. The dilemma that followed was how to provide mobile outreach clinics without funds and staff.
Throughout this period, vocal community members in our target villages were requesting mobile outreach clinics. Thankfully, in the second week of March, 3 volunteers trained in community health service expressed interest in working for the project as volunteers, and they submitted applications to the new project coordinator.
With new RMF funding we immediately purchased some medicines. The arrival of the first shipment brought great joy, and we planned and started mobile clinics in March, that same month.