Marsabit county is considering deploying mobile clinics and laboratories in an effort to increase access to healthcare services.
The county, the largest in the country, covers more than 70,000 square kilometres. Its vastness and rough terrain has made it difficult to provide facility-based healthcare services to everybody.
The problem has been worsened by the fact that more than 80 per cent of residents are nomads, a situation that precludes them from accessing quality healthcare services.
Despite the county government having undertaken a number of programmes and initiatives in collaboration with the national government and other partners, the challenges still require significant investment. Available resources are, however, unlimited, hence the need for stopgap measures.
“Pastoralists all over the world are generally characterised by passive health-seeking behaviours,” Governor Muhamud Abdi said.
“While provision of health services to mobile populations in general and pastoralists in particular definitely require innovative approaches, currently the county government neither has the resources nor the expertise for such innovative approaches.”
According to the county boss, Marsabit has continued to experience multiple disease outbreaks over the years, ranging from Rift Valley Fever that affected both humans and animals in 2019 to the protracted cholera outbreak in 2020.
“The frequent outbreaks, coupled with the increase in emerging infectious diseases in the already resource-scarce situation, present formidable challenges in provision of efficient and accessible health services to Marsabit community,” he said.
The county has twice been a beneficiary of the IGAD-EU Covid-19 emergency response donation, with the first donation of personal protective equipment worth Sh2.5 million having been received in June last year and the second donation received on Monday this week.
The donations have greatly helped strengthen its ability to scale up Covid-19 response efforts, especially at the border points.
“I have no doubt that the decision to include Marsabit in the list of beneficiaries is informed by IGAD’s understanding of the unique challenges I mentioned. This requires significant investment if we are to establish the requisite health infrastructure to an optimal level,” Abdi said.
“As county government, we, too, have embraced the imperative that once we do all we can to sustain our operations as governments and offer essential services to the people, we must also face Covid-19 head on.”
He said they have been doing everything possible to contain the virus and will do more to defeat it. In so doing, they have been keen on strengthening health infrastructure by deliberately directing funds to contain the pandemic and mitigate its impact to the extent that their resources allow, he said.