There is a Malaria outbreak that has so far claimed 15 lives in Baringo county alone.
There is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over over Chemolingot sub-county hospital in Tiaty.
I watch mothers streaming in carrying their critically ill children. They are seeking treatment. It is not lost on me that the facility is stretched and the possibility of waiting longer than they need to is very high.
Malaria is a disease that very much depends on time. If not treated early, Malaria kills.
The facility, with only 12 beds, is overwhelmed by the number of patients from various localities.
Majority of the patients are children under the age of 5. Sadly, it is that age that gets ravaged by Malaria so badly that in every 2 minutes somewhere in the world, a child is lost to this killer disease.
In one of the wards, I saw patients sharing beds. They were admitted in critical condition.
Robert Kameri, from Kapedo area is among the patients who are admitted together with his wife and their two year old daughter.
His daughter is evidently malnourished. He tells me that he could not seek treatment early because he lives 15 Kilometrers away from this facility.
“My child, wife and myself have been vomiting, complaining of acute headache and fever for several days but I was unable to access medication because of long distance to the hospital’ Kameri confirms.
He perhaps exemplifies the complexity of healthcare provision in far-flung areas. It is like a curse that won’t go away, stalking the residents with every blow of calamity.
The closest medical centrer that he would have visited was closed two months ago after nurses and other medical officials fled the area. They ran for their lives he says, because insecurity was rampant.
It is people like him who are paying the ultimate price.
Cheponyorio Aturokira, a mother with three ailing children was also admitted at the hospital ward from Nakoko area in Silale.
Her children aged nine months, two and four years were received at the facility in a critical condition and presented themselves with symptoms of vomiting, fever, headache and acute headache. They tested positive for Malaria.
“My children have been vomiting, that is why I brought them here, and after being tested, they were admitted for further examination and treatment because they’re all suffering from malaria and are anaemic, ” she said.
Sub County health service coordinator Joseph Nakopir attributed the high numbers of people suffering from Malaria to rains in the area that have creates breeding grounds for the Anophelese mosquito that transmits malaria.
The ongoing countrywide nurses strike, he added, has also contributed to the high numbers flocking the facility because most health centres and dispensaries are closed.
To contain the killer disease, he said the county government together with various health stakeholders have established mobile clinics to reach patients in remote areas.
Most patients he noted are received at Chemolingot hospital in a critical condition because of failing to receive service on time.
He added that the Beyond Zero clinics and county vehicles have been dispatched to Kolowa to diagnose and treat patients.
Officers from Kenya Defence Force (KDF) officers have also come on board to assist medical officers in the vast county to treat patients suffering from the killer disease.
The officers donated antimalarial drugs through mobile clinics set up with the county to reach patients in remote areas of Kapau, Chesawach, Kongor and Nasorot in Torioko ward.
With guidance of local administrators, they also conducted roadside clinics where they tested and treated the sick.
Patients being attended to on the roadside in a bid to reduce the long distances
Hillary Kibet, Officer Commanding Loruk KDF camp said they decided to launch the initiative following a rise in number of locals suffering from malaria.
He added that this is made possible through the Civil Military Cooperation Activity (CIMIC), where they offer service to communities in need.
They attended to more than 100 patients at Patpat center.
Baringo county is not the only one that is affected. Marsabit too is suffering the same fate. So far, about 17 people are said to have lost their livers to the disease in the county bringing the total number of those dead in Marsabit and Baringo to 32.