Mobile Outreach in Turkana

January 6, 2014

Derrick Lowoto


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.

Since December of 2009, RMF has had a long term partnership with Share International supporting the only clinic in Lodwar, Turkana’s capital, with a population of almost 30,000 as well as expanding medical outreach programs and mobile clinics, and food and water aid where needed. Funding from Medical Mission International (MMI) made it possible to significantly enlarge this program at the beginning of 2010.

In addition to RMF’s long term support of the Lodwar Clinic, we expanded our medical outreach programs and the frequency of our mobile clinics this past year, and are now reaching 33 villages and a target population of 79,800. An average of 1,300 patients is seen by the mobile clinic teams every month, and over 300 patients per month at the permanent clinic in Lodwar.

Project Objectives: 

  • 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

Summary of RMF/MMI-sponsored activities carried out during the reporting period under each project objective:

  • A total of 4,662 patients were treated both in the Lodwar Clinic and through outreach mobile clinics.
  • Twenty-eight (28) outreach clinics were conducted in the rural villages this third quarter.
  • Fourteen (14) home visits in the rural villages and villages within Lodwar.
  • Twenty-three (23) referrals were made, mostly collecting patients from rural villages for transport to health facilities in Lodwar and other tertiary health facilities in the country.
  • Continued public health education done at the beginning of every clinic session.
  • The program purchased medicine three times from pharmaceutical company in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • The program also paid staff salaries.
  • Maintenance was done on the mobile clinic vehicle.
  • The program met the costs of medical fees for some patients whom we referred for treatment in other tertiary health facilities. 
  • This quarter three staff members attended patient-related courses on HIV/AIDS and disease surveillance on communicable diseases.

Results and/or accomplishments achieved during this reporting period:

  • A total of 4,662 patients in the health clinic and outreach mobile clinics were treated
  • 28 outreach clinics were conducted in rural villages where health services are difficult to access.
  • 14 home visits, mostly to villages in Lodwar Town, were conducted, treating elderly patients and those with chronic illnesses.
  • 23 referrals were made, predominately from rural villages to health facilities in Lodwar and other tertiary health facilities in the country.
  • Public health education was conducted at the beginning of every clinic day for patients who arrive early and individual teaching on specific cases in the course of treatment.
  • Medicines were purchased three times from a major pharmaceutical company in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • For maintenance of the clinic’s vehicle, one major service and a few minor mechanical repairs were made.
  • Salaries were paid for the clinic’s hired staff.
  • Three staff members were equipped with new knowledge on patient management after attending three different short trainings on HIV/AIDS and disease surveillance on communicable diseases.
  • 2,004 tests were carried out in the laboratory with 1,112 tests testing positive for various communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Success Stories

By Derrick Lowoto

Mr. Ewoi (below) suffered a snake bite 30 miles west of Lodwar Town. A snake bit Mr. Ewoi at night while he was searching for his lost goats and he does not live in an area that has access to hospital services. Fortunately, a Good Samaritan who was heading to Lodwar Town encountered Mr. Ewoi lying in the bush and called his relative who was living in Lodwar Town to look for people who could help the patient.

Early the next morning, Mr. Ewoi came to our Clinic just as we were about to leave to conduct a mobile clinic in another village. Having learned the urgency of his situation, we arranged for vehicle and staff to go and collect Mr. Ewoi. An hour passed and he was brought to Lodwar District Hospital for further management. After, four days, Mr. Ewoi was discharged in a fair state. He thanked us a lot that we saved his life.

Mr. Peter Ewoi examined by a health worker at his home before referral to Lodwar District Hospital.

Health Education

Health education plays a key role in Turkanaland. Many diseases occur due to lack of knowledge about prevention. Lack of education in the community about various diseases and illnesses has allowed their rampant occurrence in this community. So far, our program in this quarter has managed to conduct extensive public health education outreaches on various common conditions in the community. Management of malnutrition, which is common in Turkanaland, was emphasized to all villages as well as numerous other conditions. Malnutrition in children is common here and cases are seen in almost all villages. Most people manage their daily budget on less than one dollar a day. Our emphasis is on the management of malnutrition utilizing locally available food. Additionally, we provide education for the people of Turkana on prevention of malnutrition and on nutritious food.

We usually buy food in limited amounts for patients with malnutrition for distribution during our mobile clinic outreaches in rural villages. This enables us to have some impact though there is still more to be done.

Maternal Child Health

Maternal-Child Health services are critical services among communities living in the rural villages. Health facilities are few and as a result, mothers and children rarely receive this much-needed service. We fill this gap by providing maternal and child health services in selected rural villages. Financial constraints have hindered the availability and adequate number of staff that can offer these services to all of the villages that need it.  Additionally, there are many more very remote villages that urgently need these services.