Creating COVID-ready clinics and communities
Emurutoto Clinic is an Africa Foundation donor-sponsored clinic, which opened in May 2019.
It became the first affordable and accessible clinic in the area, serving 5 communities, who otherwise travelled 25km to reach the hospital. This area, a hot spot for tourism, is classified as high-risk by the Government in terms of COVID-19. Last month, the Governor earmarked Emurutoto Clinic as one of only two clinics in the county to receive COVID-infected patients. For this to take place, the Government indicated supplies would be provided but when nothing was forthcoming, Africa Foundation reached out to donors. Soon funds of ,500 were sourced and deployed for the supply of specialized medical items and personal protective equipment to equip the clinic’s doctor and COVID-quarantine room.
Deliveries arrived before any cases of COVID-19 occurred in the area, which was a huge relief to the Doctor of the clinic – the only staff member working there – who was very concerned for his own ability to stay safe from infection while caring for patients.
Simon Saitoti, Africa Foundation’s Programme Officer explains that there is still some ambivalence in the community, regarding what is deemed an “urban” or “foreign” disease and not something that affects them. Their main concern is the economic impact that travel and social distancing restrictions are having on the area. This perspective leaves community members especially vulnerable.
The main source of income for the Maasai people in this area is trade – trade of cattle and agricultural produce. Since the end of March markets have been closed and movement between counties has been limited. This has removed the opportunity to sell cattle and have money – or access – to buy other food goods. With food becoming increasingly limited, families are beginning to depend on dried goat meat or milk as very few have their own vegetable plot. One of the threats facing the community now comes as a direct result of this food shortage, with illegal crossings over the nearby Tanzanian border to access, sell and buy.
When speaking to Simon, he says with sincerity; “I don’t know what would have happened if we did not have the clinic”. With the exception of the room that has been set aside for COVID cases, the clinic continues to service the needs of this area, including the all-important vaccination programme. Without this clinic, access to any healthcare would have been almost impossible during COVID – with the cost of transport increasing as social distancing limits passenger numbers, and private taxi fares increasing 2,000%.
In addition to his usual duties, the Dr Tom is visiting the village centre to drive awareness of fundamental preventative measures. This included a distribution of facemasks last week, produced by the staff at andBeyond Kichwa Tembo lodge. The Doctor and Simon are providing practical demonstrations on hand washing protocols, as well as how to place the mask over both the mouth and nose.
A further ,500 has been raised which will enable additional supplies of sanitisers, soaps, and PPE for the Dr. so that he can continue to see all his patients safely. We hope that COVID-19 never reaches Narok County, but remain on standby – with the support of our donors – to assist further should the event arise.