Milestones in health put Embu above its peers

Governor Wambora and medics speak to reporters after the first brain surgery in January 2018/ REUBEN GITHINJI
Governor Wambora and medics speak to reporters after the first brain surgery in January 2018/ REUBEN GITHINJI

Reuben Mugo was rushed to Kenyatta National Hospital on March 10, last year, after he was badly wounded in a fight that left his skull cracked.

But a craniotomy was impossible because the hospital’s medical registrars were on strike at the time.Craniotomy is the surgical removal of a portion of the skull to access the brain. Medics at the emergency section advised that Mugo be rushed to Embu Level 5 Hospital, some 131 kilometres away.

Mugo, a 19-year-old student from Kiambu, is now back in school after a successful craniotomy and brain procedure at the Embu Level 5 Teaching and Referral Hospital. His operation was one of the few milestones attribute to the hospital.

Rising from a dusty provincial hospital six years ago, Embu is the only Level 5 hospital that conducts brain surgeries. “We have conducted 125 brain surgeries since we began the procedures in January last year,” Governor Martin Wambora said.

The operations are conducted at the Sh250 million complex that comprises six theatres, a state-of-the-art six-bed ICU and a six-bed High Dependency Unit. It’s also the third public hospital after KNH and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital with capacity for kidney transplants.

The first successful transplant was carried out in June last year. Health executive Jamleck Muturi says although the patient later died from unrelated complication, demand for services has risen. The hospital currently has 109 patients undergoing dialysis.

Wambora says no patient from Embu would need to travel to KNH or India for treatment by 2022. The county is upgrading the lower level hospitals to relieve the pressure on Embu Level 5, which also receives referral patients from surrounding counties.

In 2017, Embu was named the best county in health in a survey by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency. But Wambora says his passion is in manufacturing.

The governor chairs the Trade, Investment, Manufacturing and Cooperatives committee of the Council of Governors. He has installed lights in 34 streets across several towns in the Eastern county. Floodlights have also been put up in 80 markets.

“We are among the most late rural counties, because traders can sell until 10pm,” Wambora says.

Next month, the county’s Sh130 million coffee mill will start processing parchments and package the product for export. “We have secured international buyers who will purchase Embu specialty coffee that has undergone value addtion.”

In October, Deputy President William Ruto commissioned a Sh200 million macadamia processing mill in Embu. Wambora said they will upgrade milk processing plants and build mango, avocado and banana processing factories. “We have already done feasibility studies and the banana processed in our county will be used to make food formula for children,” he said.

In 2013, Embu became the first county to employ ECDE teachers. The teachers are on permanent and pensionable terms. In 2015, each school got two water tanks of 10,000 liters each, in a project dubbed ‘Water for Life’. “We want to ensure all schools have safe and clean water, especially in arid Mbeere region,” Wambora said.