ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES

New hospitals boost healthcare access in slums

President Uhuru has commissioned four of the 24 hospitals in two weeks

In Summary

• President Uhuru Kenyatta  directed the Nairobi Metropolitan Service last year in August to construct 24 health facilities in the slums at a cost of Sh2 billion.

• Four hospitals have been commissioned 

Kiamaiko Dispensary built by the Nairobi Metropolitan Service which was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta on February 12, 2021
Kiamaiko Dispensary built by the Nairobi Metropolitan Service which was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta on February 12, 2021
Image: MAUREEN KINYANJUI

Access to healthcare in Nairobi’s informal settlements is expanding, thanks to the construction of 24 new health facilities. 

The Nairobi Metropolitan Service is overseeing the Sh2 billion project initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta in August last year.  

Once completed, they will increase Nairobi’s bed capacity in the informal settlement by 280 beds.

The NMS was mandated to build 19 health facilities each for Sh70 million. Another five are being built from scratch  and  five would be rehabilitated for Sh300 million.

Ten out of the new facilities are level 2 hospitals while the rest are level 3.

In the past two weeks, Uhuru has commissioned four of the 24 hospitals. The Uthiru-Muthua Hospital is a level 3 while the other three — Kiamaiko, Soweto and Ushirika — are level 2 facilities (dispensaries)

Two more — Gichagi and Gatina — will be opened this week.

Last Friday, the first baby was delivered at the Uthiru-Muthua health centre which has attended to over 400 residents since its launch on February 12, 2021.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the commissioning of the Uthiru-Muthua health centre on February 12, 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta during the commissioning of the Uthiru-Muthua health centre on February 12, 2021
Image: PSCU

Uhuru said the construction of the hospitals proved development can be made accessible anywhere in Nairobi with very little money.

“The Public can now access health services without having to travel all the way to KNH and I am proud of the good work NMS director-general Major General Mohamed Badi and his team  have done in building these facilities in remote areas within Nairobi," he said.

Uthiru residents said the new facility will save them time and money spent seeking health services from Mbagathi Hospital.

“We are used to buying over the counter drugs at pharmacies. But now we have a health centre that we can rely on,” Jackson Muiruri said.

Pregnant women no longer have to travel far for maternity services.

“Our expectant mothers in the community now have a health centre near home,” Habiba Mohammed, another resident said.  

The Uthiru-Muthua health centre is run by at least one doctor, clinical officers and nurses. They offer in-patient maternity care, laboratory, dental, counselling and pharmacy and also treat tuberculosis.

It has a 16 in-patient bed capacity, maternity, theatre and a  digital x-ray unit which can conduct 100 sessions a day.

Badi said the new health facilities will not only ease the long queues at the existing health centres and hospitals including Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), Mbagathi, Mama Lucy, Mutuini and Pumwani Maternity hospitals but also ease access and ensure quality health services to all.

In Eastlands area, with the new health centres, residents will cut down on travel cost to Mama Lucy or Kenyatta National Hospital.

Kiamaiko which was commissioned together with Uthiru has attended to 369 patients in one week.

Last week, Uhuru commissioned Kayole-Soweto and Ushirika which are also level 2 facilities. They offer outpatient services, monitoring of pregnant mothers antenatal profile, children growth and welfare, community nutrition, family planning, community health strategy and chronic illnesses such HIV. 

Sarah Wangeci, a Kiamaiko resident, said it has been costly taking her children to hospital due to transport expenses.

“The nearest facility to where I live is Mama Lucy, and to get there, I have to board at least two matatus  which is costly,” she said.

The same is the case for Habiba Mohammed who lives in Soweto. She says the level 2 hospital will address emergency cases that do not require a visit to big hospitals.

“As a community, we can now easily access health services without travelling all the way to KNH or Mama Lucy,” she said.

NMS  has already employed 600 nurses who will be deployed in the 24 hospitals and two other main hospitals, Korogocho and Mama Lucy.

“The newly recruited health professionals will be deployed to meet the demands of healthcare services in Nairobi, with most of the hospitals near completion and awaiting hand-over to ensure delivery of the much-needed health services in the county's 17 sub-counties,” NMS director for health Josephine Kibaru-Mbae said.

NMS has also contracted the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority to supply drugs to the facilities. According to NMS, currently, Kemsa is suppling Level 2 and 3 facilities with drugs under the UHC agreement.

More drugs will be procured as required once the facilities are completed.

 

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara