By Linneah Lijodi
The recent health workers strike saw the people in the informal settlements heavily affected as they are dependent on public hospitals for treatment. When these hospitals were not in service, most mothers with sick children were devastated. All services were paralysed at the nearest public
hospitals and private hospitals were out of reach for the slum dwellers. They were therefore waiting on the government to do something about the health workers situation with the hope that soon they would return to work and continue offering the much needed service. Nutrition services were offered to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and mothers of children less than 5 years.
Most children in the informal settlement are malnourished due to lack of balanced diets, so UNICEF has partnered with the public hospitals to give supplements that help in boosting the children’s immunity. Due to the crisis in the health sector the Red Cross had a two day out reach in the community where doctors came and most community members were served for free. The community volunteer went to almost every corner of the informal settlement to inform the households of the outreach, so that whoever was in need of medical attention would go and get the help that they needed. There was also immunization and deworming services for children less than 5 years. Additionally, the HPV vaccine was available to girls 10-13 years and lab services were offered to the people.
The outreach came at a time when it was most needed; women also had the opportunity to get the family planning advice on the preferred method and the service as well. The services that were offered were all types of family planning and free condoms. There was also general check-up and treatment and medicines given if not available they were advised to buy them. Free HIV –AIDS testing and counselling was also available those that were infected were advised to immediately start on the ARVS medication. The residents also had a chance to have their blood sugar tested and if it was high they were referred for more medical attention.
The community health volunteers did a commendable job by mobilising community members who received help in one way or another. They also had to show the mothers how to monitor the mwac which is used to determine if a child is malnourished or not. Further, they sensitized the community on COVID-19 and the necessary measures that are put in place by the ministry of health. I spoke to a few people who had received the said services and they spoke highly of the services that were offered and how the doctors were nice and friendly and that created a very comfortable environment for them. They hoped that the Kenya Red Cross would bring such services more often.