MWINGI, Kenya, Mar 26 – As baby Miriam Kasyoka Mbiti plays at the Kakululo dispensary field, she is unaware of the myriad problems that her mother underwent to bring her into this world.
Miriam who has a contagious smile and laughter is one of the many babies that are lucky to be alive, thanks to a lone health worker in a remote village in Mwingi South.
Miriam’s mother, Catherine Mbiti, narrated to Capital FM News the struggle that she and other women in Kakululo Village in Mwingi South face during pregnancy.
“One day as I undertook my daily chores I went into labour. I had gone for my four antenatal clinics as prescribed by the community health volunteer who paid me a visit but I had forgotten when exactly I was due.”
“I did not have money and my husband had gone out to look for work, so I trekked for two kilometres in labour taking breaks every now and then.”
“When I got to the dispensary the facility that is supposed to be the maternity wing has no beds or equipment and so the nurse in charge took me a room where she assisted me and safely delivered my baby.”
She is thankful that her baby survived unlike many mothers in her village who deliver at home and lose their babies or end up dying during child birth.
She’s here on this day with her child, Miriam, whom she named after the health care giver at Kakululo dispensary that serves 5,000 people in the community.
Miriam Macharia is the only qualified nurse in a 20 kilometre radius and residents are urging the Ministry of Health to deploy more health care workers to the facility saying that she is often overwhelmed as she tries to attend to all.
“I have been here for nine years as the only qualified care giver. There are many challenges as I am the one who dresses, prescribes and immunises the patients all at a go.”
“I live five kilometres from here because there are no quarters to live in at the dispensary. If patients get sick at night they have nobody to take care of them because I am not available at night.”
“We have a newly built maternity wing but for now it is just a building without any equipment yet per day we have about three women coming in for delivery and in such dire cases we just help the mother give birth using what we have which is very risky,” she explained.
The villagers are however hopeful after The Ministry of Health, African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), Safaricom, Accenture and Mezzanine partnered to unveil a mobile learning platform dubbed HELP – Health Enablement and Learning Platform – through which 100 community health workers in Mwingi will be trained and can later use it as a point of reference in their diagnosis.
According to AMREF e-learning programme manager Caroline Mbindyo the training equips the health workers with skills on how to administer first aid to patients before they get to a health care facility thus averting needless deaths.