Despite being one of the counties in agricultural-rich Central Kenya, Nyandarua has over the years suffered the ignominy of being marginalised by successive governments.
Due to what has been described as ‘bad politics’, the county has been sidelined in terms of basic infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools and even agro-processing factories.
Those in the know claim that things started getting worse during the regime of Kenya’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, after he fell out with the then outspoken Nyandarua North Member pf Parliament (MP) Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, popularly referred to as JM Kariuki.
In the successive governments, the likes of Kimani wa Nyoike did not tow the line and the district, as it was then, remained in the back burner.
One of the major areas that was overlooked by the national government was provision of quality healthcare to the over 500,000 residents of the county. Joshua Wanjohi, a resident of Shamata in Ndaragwa Constituency, has, however, seen the development in the health sector in the last 10 years. Wanjohi was one of the residents who previously sought treatment in neighbouring counties like Nakuru and Laikipia.
According to him, a lot of money was wasted on the road, whereas people were losing their lives while seeking treatment in other counties owing to the undeveloped health sector.
“Dispensaries in this area lacked medicine and machines for surgery. It was tough to survive with complicated health conditions,” he says.
But now with devolution, Nyandarua is starting to celebrate establishment of new healthcare centres across the devolved unit. Wanjohi, like many other residents is now revelling in the new improvement of health facilities in the county.
He notes that the national government in conjunction with the county government have upgraded most dispensaries in the area to health centres, offering much-needed services.
“The long journey to seek healthcare is no longer necessary, with the upgrading of Ndaragwa Health Centre,” said Wanjohi.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard, Lucy Wanjiru from Gathara Ward in Kinangop, shares Wanjohi’s sentiments. She says providing medical care for her family, including her children was an uphill task.
However, she notes that the improvement facilitated by devolution has been immense.
Nyandarua was one of the counties without a referral hospital, with JM Kariuki Hospital in Ol-Kalou being just above a Level Three facility.
Now, the county with the assistance of the National Government has embarked on the construction of Sh1.4 billion Mashujaa complex at the JM Kariuki Hospital.
According to the County Executive Member for Health, Dr James Mungai, the 500-bed capacity hospital, which is 70 per cent complete, will be a game changer in provision of quality healthcare.
Dr Mungai says apart from the ongoing construction, which is expected to be complete by December, the county government has upgraded other health facilities across the county.
“Governor Kimemia’s administration has invested heavily in health infrastructure. Upgrade of JM Kariuki Hospital is key to all residents as it will be a Level Six facility,” says Dr Mungai.
He adds that in its current state, the hospital has an operational Intensive Care Unit (ICU), CT scans, ultrasound machines and a blood bank.
Governor Francis Kimemia says he has set a firm foundation in the health sector. Kimemia, who regards infrastructural development in the healthcare sector as key among his flagship projects, says the county has also upgraded Engineer Hospital in Kinangop into a Level Five facility.
“In conjunction with the National Government, the hospital in Engineer ward is being upgraded at a cost of Sh600million. It will be complete in a month’s time. We have also constructed 22 new health facilities across the county,” says Kimemia.
He notes that although his administration inherited a ‘limping health sector’, the county government is turning the corner by constructing and equipping health facilities.
“We have hired about 600 health workers and recruitment for more staff is ongoing. We now have specialists that we did not have before,” says the governor.
The county has also embarked on the construction of a Sh100 million Communicable Disease Control Centre at Gwa Kiongo in Mirangine ward.