By Joe K. Kamau, Member of the Rotary Club of Gilgil, Kenya
It’s the dream of every mother to have healthy children. Similarly, it’s been the dream of Rotary members to create a healthy society and world. However, numerous people across Kenya still lack access to vital health services including immunization for children as well as ante-natal health services.
To address this problem, the Rotary Club of Gilgil in Kenya partnered with Rotary Club of Cross Timber in the United States on a global grant project to provide a mobile clinic, including a vehicle with equipment such a portable dental chair and an ultra-sound machine.
The mobile clinic provides health services to thousands of people across five villages in Kenya’s Nakuru and Narok counties very week. Offered services include immunization, family planning, deworming, curative services, health education, ante-natal care and HIV/AIDs counseling and testing. The roads in these villages are very rough, but the mobile clinic is a four-wheel drive and is strong enough to transverse through and reach communities in need.
Although this project is an initiative of the Rotary Club of Gilgil in collaboration with the Trinity Mission Dispensary, we have worked closely with the local government through the ministries of Education and Health.The Ministry of Health provided vaccines, contraceptives, and de-wormers. They also provided government professionals to help administer services. The ministry of Education allowed us to use facilities such as classrooms for medical outreach and health education.
Since the mobile clinic was first launched in March 2018, over 52,000 children across 98 schools were dewormed, while nearly 3,500 children were immunized. The mobile clinic has provided nearly 12,800 people with curative medical services and health education. Over 1,600 community members received various forms of family planning. Additionally, over 7,500 people were offered free HIV/AIDS counseling and testing services while over 1,800 women received ante-natal care.
While the benefits of having a mobile clinic are immense and something to be grateful for, offering the services has come with some challenges. There is need to train community health workers to equip them with skills that will help them offer basic medical services and attend to emergencies even on days when the mobile clinic is not around. The community members depend on the health workers they are the ones always within the villages and understand the local needs.
Also, the community health workers require smart phones as well as solar-powered phone chargers. Through the use of smart phones, they can download apps that save patient information and data making it easier to manage and track data. The health workers are in rural areas where there isn’t electricity, thus the need for solar chargers.
Some religious groups within these villages do not believe in conventional medicine, including immunization for children. Therefore, there is need to hold trainings and workshops to encourage leaders of these groups to embrace modern medicine.
These villages are also faced with high levels of poverty. Most families depend either on subsistence farming or pastoralism which barely earns them enough money for food, let alone medical care. It would therefore be crucial to have income-generating projects to help empower these communities economically. We hope to continue to work with these communities to address their needs.