Reprieve for Mandera residents after Philips opens community life centre
By Rebecca Kitele
Mandera county this week became the second devolved government after Kiambu to open a Philips Community Life Centre.
The refurbished Dandu health centre, located at the centre of Dandu hills is expected to improve primary health care for over 40,000 people in the remote region. Equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases such as ultrasound machines. This will ensure the community can get integrated quality mother and child care and general health services. It will also offer the community clean energy supply, employment opportunities, and the potential to develop commercial activities, and a secure social activity hub.
Access to primary healthcare in the hard to reach region is a challenge. The county has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality ratios amounting to 3,795 per 100,000 live births, according to UNFPA. This rate surpasses that of wartime Sierra Leone of 2,000 deaths per 100,000 live births and is far above Kenya’s national average of 448 deaths per 100,000 live births. Patients with complications travelled for over 150 kilometres to Ethiopia or 120 kilometres to the nearest health facility in Moyale to get quality care. At the same time the County, a border region, struggles with a growing population of refugees fleeing the Somalian civil war and in need of care.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba said centre will assist in reducing the number of maternal deaths in the county and improve access to primary healthcare in the largely pastoral community.
“This cooperation is reflective of the kind of partnerships we seek to participate in with the private sector and the UN that results in uplifting the lives of our communities,” he said.
The project a collaboration between Phillips, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Mandera county government supports the drive for universal health coverage by 2030 as set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 3.
“The healthcare challenges in Mandera are hugely concerning; and they are a reflection of the issues and realities faced by millions of individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Jasper Westerink, CEO of Philips Africa.
Dr Ademola Olajide, UNFPA Country Representative to Kenya, said: “The inauguration of the CLC in Mandera is an important milestone in finding new ways for significantly advancing maternal and new-born health outcomes in the six counties in Kenya, which contribute close to 50 per cent of all maternal deaths in the country. We look forward to continue learning from its operations and seeing how it will contribute to improvement in the lives and well being in the community”.
The CLC in Mandera county was developed in close partnership with the local authorities and the community right from the beginning phases including assessment and design. What is unique about it is that the community, including traditional birth attendants, a crucial aspect of maternal care in the far flung region, are involved. Therefore, instead of conducting births at homes, they are now referring women to the centre or visiting the centres to get crucial supplements for pregnant women.