Outreach clinics provide much-needed vaccines for children in remote Kenyan communities
Immunization is a basic health service that is available for free in dispensaries, health centers and hospitals throughout Kenya. But, women and children who live far from health facilities often face significant challenges in getting this essential service.
Felista Taila, a mother of four, lives in the village of Kabuswa, 40 kilometers from the Mogotio sub-county health facility in Baringo County. On a dry travel day, the trip to the closest health facility is over rough, hilly terrain. When it rains, as it often does, flooding can close this road entirely. To ensure that her youngest son received his vaccines and other health services when they were needed, Felista often had to take a boda boda (a motorcycle taxi) to a facility farther away — a trip that can cost as much as KSh3,000.
“We cannot get health services easily when it rains heavily because we can’t cross the flooded river to the health center … we have to pay a lot money to take a boda boda [to another facility],” explained Felista.
Many women from Kabuswa cannot pay the fare to a faraway facility. As a result, their children have missed immunizations that would protect them against diseases such as tuberculosis, whooping cough, measles and pneumonia.
Now, Felista and many others are receiving essential health services without the need to travel long distances or incur the associated costs. With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Afya Uzazi project is working with the governments of Baringo and Nakuru counties to improve access to quality health services by establishing outreach clinics in remote or hard-to-reach areas.
“I do not have to travel far to get to the clinic … My baby got the third vaccination here and today got two other injections,” says Felista, who talks with others in her community about the benefits of the outreach clinic and encourages them to use the services.
Afya Uzazi identified 57 sites where health teams set up clinics to provide services such as antenatal care for pregnant mothers, immunization, family planning and treatment for common illnesses and offer health education on disease prevention and child care. The project’s services ensure timely and regular vaccinations and other treatments.
As of June 2018, these clinics had delivered vaccinations and other health services to 24,214 children and 13,623 women.
The success of the project has prompted plans to extend services. “We are now expanding the package of services to adolescents and men,” says Dr. Marsden Solomon, FHI 360 Deputy Chief of Party for Afya Uzazi. These new services include blood pressure checks, HIV testing and screening for diabetes and tuberculosis.
Photo caption: Felista Taila with her youngest child waiting to receive services at an outreach clinic in Baringo County, Kenya.
Photo credit: George Obanyi/FHI 360