EIGHT YEARS AGO

Boni residents want closed dispensaries reopened

They were vandalised and torched by al Shabaab militants during terror attacks in Lamu

In Summary

•For years, the over 3000 Boni residents in the affected villages have struggled to access medical care.

•Most of them travel for thousands of kilometres to King Fahad Hospital in Lamu Island for medical care.

The remaining shell of the Mangai dispensaries after it was blown out by al shabaab militants in 2014.
The remaining shell of the Mangai dispensaries after it was blown out by al shabaab militants in 2014.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

@ppcheti

Residents of terror-prone areas in Lamu have appealed to the government to reopen health facilities that were closed eight years ago due to al Shabaab attacks.

Milimani, Mangai, Mararani and Basuba dispensaries in Boni were vandalised and torched by the militants during terror attacks between 2014 and 2015.

For years, the over 3,000 Boni residents in the affected villages have struggled to access medical care.

Most of them travel for thousands of kilometres to King Fahad Hospital in Lamu Island.

These areas are under a multi-agency security operation dubbed 'Amani Boni’ to flush out the militants believed to be hiding inside the Boni forest and nearby areas.

Residents have had to rely on medical camps organised by military and security personnel operating in these areas. 

Only Kiangwe dispensary is operating but lacks personnel and there is a frequent shortage of drugs.

Pregnant women and children have been most affected. They are unable to access crucial clinical and vaccination services.

These have reported increased maternal and infant deaths as women are forced to rely on traditional midwives who cannot handle medical emergencies during childbirth.

For Boni residents travelling to the King Fahad Hospital, is time-consuming and expensive when they use boat transport.

“We have lost many patients. It’s too far and boat transport is costly and not the fastest when you have an emergency,” Boni elder Ali Gubo said.

While pregnant women across Kenya can access both pre-and post-natal care, Boni mothers have to carry their pregnancies by sheer luck as there are no facilities to enable them to access the same.

Babies survive without life-saving vaccinations needed. 

“The King Fahad Hospital is too far and most of us cannot meet transport costs. We ask the government to re-open our dispensaries so that we can get these services here. We have lost enough women and babies,” Gubo said.

Many pregnant women deliver at home risking their lives and babies. 

Boni women community mobilizer Khadija Ghurba has urged concerned parties to not only re-open the facilities but also set up maternity wings to help women deliver safely.

“The number of mothers and babies dying during childbirth at home is alarming. We need specialized care through the return of our dispensaries,” Ghurba said.

The residents have called for the establishment of a common health centre in their areas to enable them to access medical services.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris

Kiangwe dispensary in Boni.
Kiangwe dispensary in Boni.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
Boni elders during a meeting.
Boni elders during a meeting.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES