Residents of Kotile in Ijara have appealed to the national and county governments to build a maternity ward to combat child-birth deaths.
Ahmed Abdi, a resident, said it was a shame that the nearby Kotile dispensary, which was constructed in 1996, still lacked the crucial facility for pregnant women.
"It pains to have our women give birth under a tree. Trees that are supposed to provide shade have been turned into the maternity wing,” he said yesterday.
Other locals also raised the alarm after several women suffered complications and died while giving birth at home.
And while Mr Abdi blamed local leaders for not prioritising health matters, it’s only in the last six months that residents have been able to access health care at the dispensary.
Previously, the facility was abandoned after Kotile village was identified as a hiding place for Al-Shabaab militants.
Nick Mwalia, the dispensary’s clinical officer, said that they had closed the facility last year due to insecurity. He narrated an incident when heavily armed militants stormed the dispensary and demanded to be given drugs.
“As the head of the dispensary, I complied since we could have been blown up together with the patients who were receiving treatment. That was the last time we opened the facility,” Mr Mwalia said.
But with the establishment of a Kenya Defence Force camp early in the year, life improved for the locals. They could also access health care from a military doctor and nurse deployed at the camp.
Garissa Health Executive Ahmed Nadhir Omar said they intend to upgrade all medical centres in the county.
“We are in the planning stage to ensure that all health facilities in Garissa get a face-lift. Kotile dispensary will also be factored into the plans," said Mr Omar.
The minister noted that the health center gets patients from as far as Tana River and Lamu, saying it needed to be upgraded to a district hospital because the number of patients was growing.
Omar also said they needed to increase the number of medics from the current three employees; one clinical officer, one lab technician and one nurse.