Some of the ambulances purchased by the County Government in Lodwar town
Gone are the days when patients from Turkana County would endure a 400-kilometre ride on bad roads to access medical services at Eldoret’s Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. Today residents can access the CT scans among other quality services at their Lodwar County Referral Hospital, thanks to a Sh146million countywide project.
With the construction of dispensaries in faraway places like Kibish, Lokichogio, Lokitang, Lorgum, Loyapt and Kapedo, residents only have to travel 10 to 20 kilometres to access quality healthcare.
“In the 2013/14 and 2014/2015 and 2014/15 financial year alone, 60 dispensaries were constructed and this year we target to construct another 30 in various areas of the county,” said Dr Stephen Ekitela, the Director of Medical Services. The funds allocated
were used to procure vital healthcare equipment in addition to 264 beds costing Sh12 million, and 265 mattresses at a cost of Sh2.9 million.
The biggest winner was Lodwar County Referral Hospital which got 150 beds.
The county also purchased 30 baby incubators for Sh15 million, and spent another Sh45 million on 16 scanners.
“Today we can diagnose most diseases and treat them here with our machines and doctors,” said Dr Ekitela. The county now plans to renovate the referral hospital.
“We have set aside Sh120 million to renovate the referral hospital
We plan to build a new accident and emergency unit, an intensive care unit, a high dependency unit, a Tuberculosis unit and a private wing. Fencing and surveying of the referral will also be done,” said Dr Ekitela. The county has also acquired a Sh16 million X-ray machine together with an oxygen plant.
To ensure there is adequate man power, the county has advertised vacancies for 416 professionals in the Health Ministry.
Before health services were devolved they were only 330 professional, but the number has now risen to 750.
The County Government is currently constructing 16 houses for doctors at the county headquarters in Lodwar town.
About Sh15 million was used to purchase laundry machines at the referral hospital. Each of these machine can take at least 60 litres of water per washing and can clean up to 70 bed sheets per hour.
“In the past, maternal care was handicapped by limited resources, but using county funds, we have purchased a fleet of 14 ambulances for each sub- county to improve emergency responses, a big improvement from the two we had before,” said Dr Ekitela.
In 2014, health had the highest budget allocation of 16 per cent of the Sh12.9 billion implementation budget.
The 30 health centres completed last year have helped ease congestion at the county’s main hospital in Lodwar town. The county is determined to cut down on the number of people who die from illness.
According to Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2008-2009, Kenya Service Provision Assessment 2010 survey, Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey 2010 and other surveys, the mortality rate of 414 per 100,000 live births recorded in 2003 increased to
488 per 100,000 in 2009. Fifteen counties were identified with highest burden of maternal deaths, and Turkana was among them. Others were Mandera, Wajir, Nairobi, Migori, Nakuru, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Marsabit, Lamu, Garissa, Taita Taveta and Isiolo.
With such dispensaries and investment in healthcare, the number of maternal deaths has been reduced from 1,500 deaths per 100,000 live births to 600 deaths and will be decreased sharply, says Dr Ekitela.
He says immunisation before devolution was at 46 per cent, but today stands at 75 per cent