“It’s impossible until it’s done”—Nelson Mandela
This is the story of improved and reinvigorated health services in Turkana driven by a vision of equity affordability and accessibility of health care to all.
Lorugum sub county hospital was established in 2015 as a health center to deliver MNCH (Integrated Maternal Neonatal Child Health) services to the rural pastoral nomadic Turkana herdsmen and marginalized minority groups in Loima namely Nkebootok and Ichakun, and IDP’s. With the advent of devolution and reorganization of health services in Turkana, the facility was upgraded to a Sub County Hospital to serve as a referral CEMONC (comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care) Centre for other 35 health centers and dispensaries within Loima region. It is serving a population of about 250, 000 people in one of the poorest and remotest parts of North Western Kenya.
Turkana County since independence has had a plethora of health related challenges. This narrative is steadily and consistently changing for the better when the County Government with the help of its partners managed to reverse some of these worrying trends. Since accessing specialized health care was a big challenge, operating theatres and CeMONC centers have been constructed in Lorugum, Katilu, one is coming up in Lokitaung in the far North and before the year ends, one will be put in Elelea to serve Turkana East. This effectively is calculated to decongest Lodwar County Referral Hospital and take services closer to the people. Maternal mortality rate has come down from 1594/100,000 live births six years ago to the current 500/100,000 live births. Under 5 mortality rate has also reduced from 117/100 live births within the same period to 74/1000 live births and infant mortality rate has come down from 72/1000 live births to 52/1000 live births.
In 2016,DFID and its other agencies CICF,CHDP,UKAID,IRC in collaboration with the Turkana county government partnered to renovate maternity ward building to create a theatre and neonatal unit to provide specialized CEMONC services. This was part and parcel of the wider UK Government bid to improve maternal and new born health through County Innovation Challenge Fund that led to 5 counties benefitting Turkana being one of them. They equipped the theatre with surgical hardware and neonatal unit with baby incubators,phototherapy machines,continuous positive airway machines,and oxygen concentrators.Solar panels and a backup generator were installed to provide power in case of power outages.The anaesthetic machine came in with an inbuilt battery,ventilator ,oxygen concentrator and patient monitor capable of sustaining an operation for upto 6 hours without use of power.This centre was commissioned by Turkana CEC Health Hon.Jane Ajele on 21.1.2019.From then on it was all systems go.
The climax of this narrative occurred when the hospital successfully carried out its first caesarian section on 8th February 2019 and delivered twin baby girls weighing 3,5kgs and 2.3kgs respectively. This heralded opening up of Loima Sub County at large to surgical operations not only for maternal related complications but also for other general surgical procedures. It’s intended as well to serve Eastern Uganda residents who drop by to access specialized services.
Hospital Vision is to be the CEMONC and referral hospital of choice for Loima Sub County and the region. The mission is to build a sustainable client centered health care system for attainment of the highest standard of health care at a cost which the community can afford in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination. The core obligation of Lorugum sub county is to implement Universal health coverage in line with the Kenya health policy framework of 2014-20130 which has two targets: One is to ensure access to quality health care as a fundamental human right to a larger section of the population especially the aged,the disabled,vulnerable and the poorest of the poor and secondly is to attain economic growth as contained in Kenya vision 2030.
Ejok noi kingarakinite namerikanyer.
Major rtd Dr.Ekiru James Kidalio
Medical superintendent Lorugum subcounty hospital.