Kenya: Ochieng Memorial Lwala Community Hospital First Quarter 2012 Report

June 1, 2012

James Nardella, Katherine Falk and Jonathan White

Project Goal:

Provide funding and support to the Lwala Community Hospital that serves the population of North Kamagambo in Migori County, Kenya. Poor physical infrastructure, including impassable roads during the rainy season, lack of electricity and lack of reliable drinking water, have helped to create a critical healthcare challenge. 

The health center was recently upgraded to a community hospital with RMF funding, and is part of a larger effort to achieve holistic health and development in Lwala, including educational and economic development.

Other programs include Emergency Ambulance Services and a Safe Motherhood (Umama Salama) Community Education Program. Based on the populations of school aged children and the number of families related to the 13 primary schools in the Lwala area, there are over 20,000 people who are able to access health care at the Lwala Community Hospital by foot or short motorcycle transport. 

Photo: Staff conduct WASH education outreach at local school

Project Objectives during this reporting period:

Improve patient care and clinical operations

Improve access and facility infrastructure

Expand and improve quality of education programs

Professionalize the organization through better policies and practices

Properly procure and account for physical, financial, and human resources

Increase impact of health outreach programs

Build capacity of community members in income generating activities

Improve programs through better communication and monitoring and evaluation

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

  • Paid salary and other employment costs for Clinical Officer in charge, Fred Muraha
  • Paid for maternal and child health costs including:
  • Salary and other employment costs for maternity nurse Rose Adhiambo Gayo
  • 58% of medicine costs
  • Paid for ambulance repairs and maintenance
  • Paid for fuel for ambulance to provide emergency transportation
  • Paid for obstetric emergency referrals
  • Sponsored Virtual Marathonin March to promote healthy living in the community

Number served/number of direct project beneficiaries:

A total of 3,939 patients were treated in the First Quarter


Photo: Staff treat children at clinic and supplies of Waterguard are readied

Diarrhea Outbreak Triggers Emergency Response

Due to the dry season in Lwala, people have turned to unsafe sources of water for drinking. In the first 2 weeks of February, over 40% of the children who came to the Lwala Community Hospital came with diarrhea. Most of these children are between the ages of 6 and 18 months, and one child died at the hospital due to the severity of her dehydration. In response, the hospital staff treated children with oral rehydration therapy (ORT), taught mothers an inexpensive way to create ORTs at home using salt, water, and sugar, and distributed free Waterguard and PUR tablets to ensure families can treat their water.

We also mobilized a team of 14 community members trained in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to go door-to-door in the villages surrounding Lwala to educate community members on safe water and sanitation, teach them how make ORTs, and distribute Waterguard and PUR. Simultaneously, staff visited local schools to provide health talks on how to prevent the spread of diarrhea both at home and at school.

To date, the WASH outreach workers have reached 2,705 people in the community and an additional 5,979 students through school-based visits. In addition, 300 bottles of Waterguard and 12,000 sachets of PUR tablets (enough to equal 120,000 liters of clean water) were distributed. Through consultation with the Kenyan government, public health officials, and other NGOs, we are working to reduce the number of children who must suffer from this preventable condition.

Photo: Students running the 5K race

Virtual Marathon

In mid-March, the Lwala Community Alliance teamed up with Real Medicine Foundation to host its first “Virtual Marathon” in Lwala. The event was held in tandem with the Los Angeles Marathon, of which Real Medicine Foundation was an official participating charity.

Each school in the area surrounding Lwala selected two to four students (44 students total) who would run 5 kilometers in a race to encourage the community in healthy living. The theme of the race was “Running for Health” and included messages to students and participants about how they can improve their health through proper water and sanitation practices, keeping active, and learning about and being tested for HIV. The Lwala Community Alliance had staff on hand to provide information on these programs and to provide Voluntary Counseling and Testing for HIV.


Photo: (Left) Program Director Robert Kasambala presents certificate to one of the top runners (Right) Students watching the race.  

In addition, representatives from various programs of the Lwala Community Alliance showed up in support of the event. The New Visions Sewing group had set up a stand to market the clothes, uniforms, reusable sanitary towels, and other products they had sewn. The Furaha Soap group sold liquid soap and disinfectant along with sodas and cookies for the waiting spectators. The clinical staff from Lwala Community Hospital was offering free care and treatment for children under 5 years old and a flat fee of $3 for anyone over 5. Mothers with their children were lined up outside the tent waiting for vaccinations, Vitamin A supplements, and HIV tests. Throughout the day, over 180 people were seen by the staff. The top three racers won sports shoes for themselves along with prizes for their schools, including sports uniforms and sports equipment. The students, parents, and teachers in attendance were ecstatic about the event. The event also gave the Lwala Community Alliance staff an opportunity to provide the community with pertinent information onhealth issues.  All in all, the race was an amazing success and one that could not have been possible without the support of Real Medicine Foundation.

Patient Story: Baby Patrick

During the week of February 6, a 14 year-old girl came to the Lwala Community Hospital with her 6 month old son, Patrick.  Patrick’s head was swollen greatly beyond the normal size due to a dangerous condition called encephalitis.  The girl and her mother live about 15 miles from Lwala Community Hospital and originally took Patrick to a hospital in a nearby town called Homa Bay. In Homa Bay they were referred to Kijabe Hospital, which has a special program to assist children in Kenya dealing with this dangerous problem.  As a new mother, the girl has no income and her mother delivers firewood to neighbors for minimal profit.  When the doctors at Homa Bay referred them to Kijabe, the girl felt there was no hope because she didn’t have the money to pay for the transportation, let alone the procedure. 

Photo: Baby Patrick and his mother

Fortunately, one of the girl’s sisters knew of Lwala Community Hospital because she had been living in a nearby village with her husband and suggested that she take Patrick there to be seen. Through relationships that Lwala Community Hospital staff have developed with doctors at Kijabe Hospital, an agreement was reached that Patrick would be cared for at Kijabe at a reduced cost of $200 which Lwala Community Alliance would cover through support from Real Medicine Foundation.  As a result, the girl and baby Patrick left Lwala for Kijabe on February 9 to receive the specialized care needed for him.

Country Page: Kenya Initiative Page: Lwala Healthcare Project