Worse still is the state of affairs in places that are deep into the rural areas in Taita Taveta. This is a story that many can relate to in Taita Taveta County. That this phenomenon has caused untold suffering to women, or even death, prompted actions that now are the basis of improvements that guarantee women and children equal opportunity to quality and affordable healthcare.
Jacinta Malemba, a clinical officer in charge of Ndilidau Dispensary narrates the actual state of healthcare in the area, contrasting the situation now and a few years back.
Serving in the maternity wing of the dispensary, Malemba has possibly ‘seen it all. She remembers one instance where a pregnant woman was rushed into the facility’s maternity room in the company of her husband. When the time of delivery came, just when she was ready to welcome the newborn to the world, darkness engulfed the room, owing to a power outage.
With no backup power to provide the much-needed light, Jacinta and her colleagues resorted to using a flashlight to light up the room to secure the lives of the mother and child. Luckily, the struggles of that night were not in vain as the baby was successfully delivered.
As we walk along the dispensary corridors, I noticed Malemba’s pleasant demeanor. She immediately points me to a piece of equipment installed in the facility. The dispensary now boasts a modern solar energy system courtesy of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Kenya) project funded by the BMZ-German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation.
She credits the facility for hundreds of lives that have so far been saved because of uninterrupted healthcare services. Prior to the installation of this equipment, Malemba disclosed that the dispensary only handled a few cases and the rest were to be referrals to other medical facilities, and this often put mothers’ lives at risk.
“In the recent years, some equipment like the autoclave sterilization machine was used sparingly because of the high electricity bills which sometimes run up to Ksh 15,000 per month. What this meant for the dispensary is that we were forced to transport equipment to Taita Taveta County Hospital for sterilization hence crippling hospital functions,” she said.
In addition, Malemba notes that the incorporation of solar panels in the facility has seen power bills going for as low as Ksh 4,000 which gives the management a chance to allocate the much-needed resources to the most critical and essential services. What’s more, she says the dispensary is also able to sterilize its equipment in-house.
“In addition to having a functioning sterilization machine, the facility is now able to efficiently make use of its resuscitative infant incubator, suction machine, and the oxygen machine,” she says.
During the tour of the dispensary, KBC Digital met Editta Minimito who we found out was tasked with the responsibility to carry out regular checks on the facility with a key focus on mothers in labor.
But she says Malemba and her team managed to turn the situation for the better and delivered a healthy baby girl who was referred to Taita Taveta County Hospital just to ensure that she was in good health.
Chikera believes that in the event Malemba and her team hesitated on the day, she would probably be grieving the death of her one-year-old.
Ndilidau Dispensary which is located in the Tsavo Conservation Area was solarized in 2021 as part of a the Climate Change Adaptation project by Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) and WWF-Kenya.
With solar power, the community of over 8,000 people spread out in 12 villages today gets uninterrupted health services, twenty-four hours a day.