For many years, the residents of Gatunguru area in Murang’a county have had to travel long distances to seek medical care. Since 2009, the community had tried to rehabilitate a small old clinic in the area but as we all know, building and equipping a well-functioning health center is no mean feat. Progress was very slow since they were self-funding, and eventually the project seemed to stall.
A little nudge in the right direction always comes in handy and thanks to M-Pesa Foundation, Gatunguru Health Center is now complete and in use. The Kshs.9M donation by the foundation has left the residents of the area with a go to hospital complete with qualified doctors, a delivery room, a mothers’ ward, general wards, laboratory and a well-stocked pharmacy among other facilities that make an all-round health center. So ready were the residents that the facility served 600 patients in the first 15 days of operation.
The impact of the health center which serves around 80 people per day is now being felt. With services ranging from the usual hospital consultations and treatment, pre and post-natal clinics, immunization, maternity and cervical cancer screening, just about everyone is covered. Any cases that are beyond the facility are referred to the sub county hospital and onwards.
According to Boniface Mwangi who is the Senior doctor in charge at the center, the most common ailments they deal with are non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis. These are conditions that require hospital visits here and there and having a nearby hospital is of great benefit to the population in the area. This also eases pressure on other county hospitals and allows them to serve better. The health facility will now increase its capacity to serve as a Level 3 Health Centre.
One of M-Pesa Foundation’s major focus in healthcare is maternal and newborn health and this health centers along with others all over the country are a clear indication of this direction. The foundation has footsteps around this all over the county, especially through Uzazi Salama initiative which entails improving health service delivery infrastructure, capacity building of health workers, enhancing community-based information and education, and health care financing.
M-PESA Foundation has also invested KES150 million in the Uzazi Salama Project targeting over 90,000 women and children under 5 years in Homabay County beneficiaries receive maternal health services.
With the new center at Gatunguru, staff members are motivated since they are working in good conditions, and patients feel confident for the same reasons. Other than the hospital itself, the foundation also constructed a septic tank to improve sanitation, and an underground tank so that the center never runs out of water. Availability of enough clean water is crucial in all of life, and more so for a health facility.
My colleagues and I visited Gatunguru last week for the public launch of the facility and it was clear to see that it is a great addition to the area. Residents turned up in huge numbers to witness the event that was graced by the M-Pesa Foundation Chairman Michael Joseph, former Safaricom Board Chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a, and the local political leadership.