West Pokot County revives Beyond Zero Mobile Clinic to improve healthcare in remote areas

When the former First Lady Margaret Kenyatta launched the Beyond Zero mobile Clinic in 2015 in West Pokot County, residents had high hopes that health would be improved in remote far-flung areas.

However, this came to pass with little impact on the ground after the mobile clinic vehicle was grounded, hence health services stopped due to poor management by the former regime.

However, the West Pokot County Government has revived the program.

West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin says that the initiative will improve health services, prevent illness and reduce deaths along County borders and interior places in the semi-arid area.

“People removed spare parts from the vehicles. It has not even gone more than 7000 and it was grounded purposely. Now it is other and working,” said Kachapin.

The County boss says that the fully kitted mobile clinic will improve access to medical services for children and women and reduce maternal and infant mortality rates in the region.
For a long period of time, residents living in semi-arid, remote areas in the County have been depending on medical camps, most of them opting to sell their livestock to access medical services.

Some always opt to use traditional herbs because most patients from the region suffer from Malaria during rainy seasons.

Expectant women are normally assisted by midwives in villages who are not qualified.

Survivors of bandit attacks have been suffering because of the lack of health facilities in the region but now things have changed.

West Pokot County was one of the marginalized regions by previous regimes before devolution and residents used to walk for over 50km to dispensaries in search of medical attention.

Health facilities in the regions are sparsely placed and many were suffering from many diseases leading to an increase in the mortality rate of young ones.

At the moment, the county has a total of only 150 health facilities serving a population of more than 500,000 residents.

“We aim to improve health in places that were most affected like North and Central Pokot Sub Counties. At one visit so many health activities go on and this include antenatal care, specialized care like having a mobile ultrasound where a risk pregnancy can be detected and referred early, they offer immunization, growth monitoring, health education, treatment of minor ailments such as diarrhoea, upper respiratory tract infection and dispense drugs,” said Kachapin.

Speaking on Sunday in Kapenguria, Kachapin said the mobile clinic has been fully reequipped and has adequate health personnel, drugs.

“This is a moving hospital and whenever it comes to your area come out in large numbers and get treatment. The reason for this mobile vehicle is to help mothers and their children get treatment,” said Mr Kachapin.

He said the beyond zero will help reduce referral cases to Moi teaching and referral to Eldoret Hospital.

“If Kapenguria referral hospital can be upgraded to level 6 then it will reduce maternal deaths. We are also requesting for another beyond-zero van from the current regime because the county is vast,” he said.

He said the mobile clinic will help residents along the West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet border where pneumonia is common because the area is cold.

He said the mobile clinic will bring services closer to people.

“Women have been empowered and the girl child through education and bringing up healthy mothers who can raise their families. Indicators of family planning have gone up and women have been sensitized on the importance of giving birth in hospitals, hence improved antennal clinics,” he said.

Mr Kachapin cited that signs of diseases can be easily identified and many outreaches are conducted in far-reaching areas.

West Pokot Health County executive member Clare Parklea said the county government has allocated the lion’s share of the budget to the health department which has been experiencing a lot of challenges.

“We have invested heavily in the health sector so as to improve health in the area. We have been facing many problems in health but now everything will be possible,” said Ms Parklea.

She said that the county has put efforts in remote villages in dire need of medical care by constructing and deploying more nurses.

“We have constructed dispensaries in every location to boost health care,” said Ms Parklea.

She said that the county has doubled the number of dispensaries in the entire county and the county is set to construct more so as to meet the international standards of a radius of 5 km.

“We now have more new dispensaries,” he said.

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