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Mobile clinic comes to the rescue of residents

By | March 18th 2011


Halim Guyo clenched her teeth and looked aside as her child was given a tetanus injection.

The child cringed and curled in his mother’s arms and frowned at the doctor carrying the syringe.

Sweating mothers with their wailing and kicking children strapped on their backs or cuddled on their laps braved the scorching sun to receive treatment for various ailments.

These are some of the scenes that characterised a two-day free medical camp at the Isiolo stadium.

The Kenya Hope Foundation, Kenya Red Cross Society and the Italian Rotary Club organised the camp, which also attracted adults. They trudged in from all directions — some aided, stooping and others literally crawling or atop donkey carts.

The residents braved the blinding sun and blistering temperatures, a minor sacrifice, as they sought treatment for their ailments.

By the end of the exercise about 209 people had their ailments diagnosed and treated. Half of them had dental problems.

"I have had a tooth ache for three years and that has been a source of my gloom. Now I hope the medication I received after it was removed will bring back my smile and eradicate the pain," said John Alile.

"Some of us were resigned to never seeking treatment because we can’t afford," he added.

Bad politics

"We wish the camp could be frequent so that many people out there can benefit. I am really grateful," he said.

The medical camp was also held in Meru at St Francis Children’s Village where 650 patients were treated.

Last weekend the doctors pitched tent at Archers Post on the Isiolo-Samburu districts border.

Volunteer doctors from Italy attend to a dental patient during the two-day medical camp in Isiolo County. [PHOTOS: BONIFACE ONGERI/STANDARD]

The mobile clinic not only left patients treated, but also left most residents wowed by the state-of-the-art equipment. The long haul stirred the sleepy town to life as it slithered on the streets searching for a suitable location to park.

The unit has dental equipment, instant X-Ray facilities and modern gynaecological kits and scanner to identify the gender of a foetus.

That is not all, the unit also has a machine for CD-4 counts for HIV and Aids patients, among other hi-tech medical equipment.

However, it has not been smooth sailing for the mobile clinic.

Constituents of Rarieda nearly set it ablaze in the aftermath of the disputed presidential results in the 2007 General Election.

That the Kenya Hope Foundation patron Raphael Tuju, who is also the former legislator of the constituency was regarded a President Kibaki ally fuelled their anger.

"We had to bribe the youth who had blocked the highway to get the mobile unit out of the constituency," said Swaleh Kadara, the foundation’s director of projects.

However, the youth realised their blunder given the value of the unit to the local community and they now want it back.

A text message from one of the remorseful youth pleads: I am deeply sorry for what happened, is there a way we can get back the mobile hospital? We now realise how important it was."

Some of those who turned out for the free camp in Isiolo expressed disbelief of what nearly befell the unit.

"We won’t mind hosting the mobile unit here, we need medical services," says Yokosio Lukwawi, one of the patients.

Mr Kadara says the doors for the unit to return to Rarieda are still wide open.

Biggest enemy

"We will see what next but for now the foundation is literally going for the patients rather than wait for the patients. Those in dire need are getting the services," he says.

The mobile unit is also more than a moving hospital, but also a peace caravan.

"Our biggest enemy is not tribe but poverty, illiteracy, and poor health. The foundation’s main purpose is to alleviate suffering," Kadara says.

While the organisation provides logistics, the Red Cross donates medicine and the Rotary Club of Italy offers medical expertise.

Dr John Devalle, a resident of Torino, Italy, says he jumped at the opportunity when he was approached to offer his service.

"There is always a feeling of satisfaction to offer help to those in need. It is a fulfilment," says the dentist.

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