Even before the doors opened for the first day of service at the new Kachiuru Dispensary, patients were standing in line to be admitted to the examining room. On June 28th, mothers with babies and small children waited patiently in the shade of the building while the Clinical Officer, who would soon be attending them, prepared for the day.
Few of the residents in this Isolated and underserved community had ever visited a health facility and the anticipation of this moment had been building since construction on the building began at the end of last year with funds from a wonderful longtime FKSW donor, WideAwake.org. The dispensary was ready for service in May, but a nationwide nurses' strike in Kenya, that is still ongoing, delayed the opening. Eventually, the County government stepped in and provided a Clinical Officer,** who is not participating in the strike, to begin serving the community. The dispensary was officially opened on June 21 by the Meru County Governor, but was not ready for patients until June 28th.
Samuel Muhunyu, the Director of our partner NGO, NECOFA, participated in the celebration on June 21st and sent us this report on the events of that day.
"Let me confirm that since Wednesday last week (June 27) community members are receiving medical services at Kachiuru dispensary. I feel so happy for the Kachiuru community and very grateful to WideAwake.org, FKSW and the Meru County government.
On the D-day for Kachiuru dispensary official opening by His Excellency the Governor of Meru County on 21st June we arrived at the school some minutes after 9:00am. After introductions and a school tour with the school committee, we went to the dispensary and joined and participated with the Mutuati medical personnel who had made arrangements for the opening ceremony.
At about 11:15 am the helicopter carrying the guest of honor, Governor Mheshimiwa Munya and his entourage landed in the school attracting almost everybody from the village. After greetings and niceties with the crowd the Governor was invited to “cut the ribbon” and to uncover the hastily mounted plaque to a big applause by the wananchi (local people) including our wageni (visitors) and us. The Governor then entered the dispensary, signed the visitors’ book, inspected all rooms and declared the dispensary officially open to provide service to the community.
I am one the few people who were invited to make a speech and that gave me the opportunity to inform the Governor, his team, the community and other wageni (visitors) about the funding of the dispensary project by WideAwake.org through FKSW and the management and supervision of the construction work by the school committee, head teachers and health officials from Meru County. I thanked him and his staff for cooperating with us in the implementation of the community's “dream,” especially for keeping their promise of providing drugs and personnel for the dispensary.
In his speech the Governor thanked WideAwake.org for funding the project. He also expressed gratitude to FKSW and NECOFA for including Kachiuru, in Meru County, among our target areas for assistance and to the Slovak and US wageni for deciding to visit Kachiuru and participate in the opening ceremony.
In response to requests made to him by Kachiuru Primary School chairman Silas Alessio, he promised to send a little relief food for the hungry community; to supply the dispensary and school with a tankerful of clean water; supply a maternity/delivery bed and to provide 200,000 Kenya shillings ($1,9025) for laying a foundation for the new Nursery classroom. He also paraded the 2 staff that will work at Kachiuru dispensary, a Clinical Officer and a nurse. As he concluded he asked all present to pray for his re-election victory and those with Meru County voters’ cards to vote for him as Governor and Uhuru Kenyatta for President on 8th August.
On Wednesday the 28th, the clinical officer commenced service delivery at the dispensary. The nurse is yet to move to Kachiuru because he is still participating in a national strike with other nurses. I am informed by Head Teacher Samuel Mutabari that the dispensary is currently attending an average of 15 patients per day. "
Tosha for now and regards,
**Clinical Officer (CO) program students are recruited from the high school graduate pool. They receive 3 years training in clinical science and then do a mandatory 1 – 1.5 years internship at a government health center, mostly in the rural areas. There are two levels of training: the 3 yr. diploma in clinical medicine and surgery, and the 4 yr. bachelor of clinical medicine and community health. Both focus on community medicine and primary care, and both have clinical exposure by the 2nd yr.
The COs have many opportunities to advance professionally. They can get specialized training in pediatrics, reproductive health, ophthalmology, orthopedics as well as in advanced surgical procedures such as C -sections, cataract surgery, hernia repairs, tonsillectomies and administering anesthesia.