It is a chilly, dusty morning on the 29th August 2016 at Guba centre in Mandera County. Women and children have gathered at the health facility to receive the essential immunisation services from the medical outreach team.
28 year old Suban Ahmed is one of the women at the health centre. She has five children. Today, she has brought her eight months old daughter Zeituna Hassan to be immunised.
Suban says: “My baby girl is eight months old but has never received any immunisation since birth. I have visited this facility severally to inquire from the health workers about the availability of immunisation services, but the response has always remained the same, ‘we are waiting for the EPI fridge to be availed.’ I eventually gave up trying and left my child’s fate in the hands of Allah. I desperately needed to access vaccination services because when I was pregnant, I received only one injection. I delivered my baby at home through a traditional birth attendant.”
“Last week, I was very excited. We were called for a meeting at the chief’s camp. The representative from Save the Children and Ministry of Health informed us that we shall be receiving immunisation services on a monthly basis. Today I am very happy because my child has been immunised. She has had to receive all the vaccines that she missed out. I am confident that she is going to lead a healthy life now. I will also ensure that I show up monthly until Zeituna acquires full immunity.”
Adan Gurow Hussein, a community health worker at Guba centre says: “Our women and children have had a lot of concerns regarding their health matters. Our facility has not been providing preventive services since it started functioning about a year ago. The women in this village are aware of the importance of vaccination but we have been making empty promises for a long time.”
“The population in Guba centre is approximately 2,000 households. Very few people are financially stable. The distance from Guba to Banisa sub-county hospital is 21 kilometres and this is the nearest facility where immunisation services are available. A motorbike costs KES 1,000 one way to Banisa town. A few women have had to pay the transport costs to receive the immunisation services from Banisa sub-county hospital. However, they are unable to follow through with the immunisation schedule because of financial constraints,” says Adan.
Adan says that prior to the visit by Save the Children and the Ministry of Health, the community had proposed to collect savings from willing members to hire a vehicle that would transport women and children to Banisa to receive vaccination services. According to Adan, each vehicle would cost KES 8,000 and this was a desperate move towards ensuring that children received essential services. “I am now very pleased that my community members who have been marginalised for a long time have been reached at the hour of need. We appreciate the donors who funded this project and promise to ensure all the women and children access the life-saving services,” Says Adan.