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17 March 2022 - News


By Kerrow, Maalim

Iresteno village is one of the biggest and oldest settlements in Mandera West Sub-County of Mandera County, Kenya. It is among several other villages in Mandera, lacking fully functional health facilities, making it difficult for area residents to not only get health services, but for their children to get basic immunization services.

That was the case, until Save the Children, with funding from Pfizer Foundation, supported the operationalization of Iresteno Dispensary and other health facilities in the area. Mzee Mohamed, who is a community elder in the village and also a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) says this initiative has helped the communities get the much-needed health services.

 Now that the government, with the support of Save the Children and Pfizer Foundation have made our dispensaries fully functional, our primary maternal and child health worry is a thing of the past. It is my hope that the government will consistently support the health center with medical supplies and health personnel to enable the facility continue with its operations, says an optimistic Mzee Mohamed

It has been very difficult for our children to get immunized against childhood diseases such as measles, polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases. We had to rely on the monthly integrated health outreach programmes that were supported by Save the Children, says Mohamed. “On those days when there were no outreaches, we had to ferry our children and mothers to Dandu Health Centre which is 40 kilometers away, or cross to the Ethiopian town of Qadaduma to seek health services. We did this using motorbikes, which are not safe”.

According to government statistics, immunization coverage in Mandera dropped from 76% pre-Covid-19 period to now 56%. This has been attributed by among others, lack of fully functional health centers offering immunization services in the county.

I am a trained CHV, and I understand the importance of healthcare services and especially immunization for young children. But this had been hindered by the lack of having health facilities offering these services in the area, says Mzee Mohamed.

Other than Iresteno Dispensary, the project by Save the Children and Pfizer Foundation has supported the operationalization of 16 new and old immunization health facilities with renovation works and donation of furniture and immunization cold chain equipment in Mandera North, Mandera West and Mandera South Sub-Counties. With our support, the 16 health facilities are now supporting their own hard-to-reach catchment population through Save the Children’s monthly health outreaches.

 So far the outreaches have been in 42 villages, reaching more than 700 children with immunization services and 1500 children for treatment of minor illness.

Cover Photo: Mohamed speaking to Save the Children after a delivery of cold chain equipment at the Iresteno Dispensary.