By Vitalis Kimutai
She had been queuing at the facility for one hour alongside dozens of mothers waiting to see the only ‘doctor’ in the region. The buibui clad 29-year-old woman uses a scarf to whisk away houseflies from the pale face of her daughter, Zainabu.
“Zainabu has had stomach problems for the last one week and the pills we were given by a neighbour have not helped her,” Isse said through an interpreter.
Isse expects her daughter to be treated at the hospital, even though she has no money to buy drugs.
Though the locals call it Afmadhow Health Centre, it can hardly pass for a dispensary.
Hassan Mursil, the clinical officer, is the only health manning the facility, assisted by two staff.
“Things have been very tough for the last two years as the facility has not had medical supplies. We are forced to charge patients some fee to buy medicine from local pharmacists,” Mursil said.
Mursil said about $800 is collected monthly from patients and it is used to pay a token to the two volunteers, the administrator, himself and buy drugs. Complicated cases are mostly referred to Kenya and others to Kismayu where better health facilities exist.
But most of the patients die for lack of transport, as there are few vehicles for the unforgiving terrain and no ambulance.
“Most of the patients have pneumonia, ulcers, urinary tract infections, anaemia, malaria, intestinal worms, respiratory infections, and skin diseases,” Mursil said.
The number of people seeking medication has also shot up from 40 to 70 a day in the past three weeks following liberation of the town from the hold of the Al Shabaab.