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Poor and sick in the neglected Ngorongo health centre in Gatundu North

It’s a cold evening outside Ngorongo health centre in Gatundu South. A mom with worried look straddles her ailing baby to her bosom. The toddler has cried sore and stopped. Wanjiru, the mother has found the only two benches at the out-patient   occupied. She has to stand and wait longer for her turn to see the physician in one of the many badly lit units.  The child grimaces from pain. The queue is long, and winding, and moving at snail pace, as Wambui awaits her turn, her fingers are crossed for her daughter, in the meantime the child’s wails grow louder.

The  Gatundu area  which the hospital serves has high burden of Malaria, Anemia,  Respiratory Tract infections , Pregnancy related ailments , Diarrhea seaside,  Septicemia,  HIV/ AIDS and related complications,  Accidents,  Lifestyle Diseases 9 Hypertension and Diabetes ) , and Malnutrition .This is according to  2019 health records seen by Mobile Journalism Africa. The heath centre is infrastructure is not equipped to treat this case-load.

Senior staff at Ngorongo who asked not to be named said the health Centre does not have tools and equipment to give results of blood samples be it Viral load or the DBS samples, Another staff on condition of anonymity revealed that samples have to be taken to the Mai district hospitals for analysis of results which lead of ten lead to low turnaround of results and poor management of HIV clients.

Tucked in beneath a hilly terrain in Gatundu, Ngorongo health centre is under pressure. It is under-equipped, and many facilities are rusty, dilapidated and obsolete. The maternity division has only three beds. The maternity has leaking roof which allows in elements, a major risk to the health of mothers and newborn babies in the delivery room. The roof of the outpatient block has a constellation of leaks. The paint on the wall in some units is now old and chipping off, revealing zig-zagging cracks.

Mobile Journalism Africa also noticed the laboratory lacks adequate shelving and hand-wash basins that seemed to scream to be fixed. The public health centre serves the general population of approximately 100, 000 in Gatundu mainly mothers, children, and people living with various disabilities.

Wanjiru has traveled over 15KM from her village of Nyamathumbi with her sick child through a hilly terrain using motorbike to get to the healthcare. Most patients who visit health centre drowning deeply wallowing in poverty. They travel mostly by motorbikes through snaking hilly terrain which can complicate the health of frail patients.

More residents of Gatundu North just  like Wanjiru Decry the state of the health  facility

Listen: Ngorongo residents cry over poor state of health facility .

The residents’ cries are consistent with an insider’s revelation.  A physician at the facility on condition of anonymity revealed to us  that the state  of staffing at the health facility  is worrisome.

“There is shortage of staffing. We have six nurses, but one is on maternity leave. We are supposed to be twelve, but we are six (two male nurses and four female nurses).  When one goes to study they don’t replace. When one goes for retire, they don’t replace. We even do not have a clerk. There has been a perennial shortage.  We are being overworked. Some days I see up to over a hundred patients a day.  During the weekends there is only one nurse”


What about possible solutions?

To get around the infrastructure problems, the hospital administration appeals  for help to repair  the whole outpatient bloc, this is according  to a  document seen by Mobile Journalism Africa. The document says the whole ceiling board needs to be taken down and replaced with cellotex ceiling boards covered with three coats plastic emulsion paint.

The hospital is in need of iron sheets, roof paint and undercoats of gloss oil paint.  The laboratory is in need of in-built cupboards and high level shelving and hand-wash basins. The management adds that the health centre is in need of heavy duty UPVC gutters, a standard incinerator, septic tank, and man-hole covers. Besides infrastructure, the hospital manager says the government, needs to increase the workforce.

Ironically, the Kenyan economic pillar claims

“No society can gain the social cohesion predicted by Vision 2030 if significant sections of it live in abject poverty”.

It goes ahead to spell “By 2030, it will become impossible to refer to any region of our country as “remote. The situation in Ngorongo however is a far cry from reality.

Health sector infrastructure a key foundation pillar as envisaged by  vision 2030 requires  an improved and expanded national physical infrastructure.


This story has been produced with support and grant from Media Council of Kenya.

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