Health Care Access Struggles

Parenting has never been easy, and even more difficult as a single parent. Having lost my husband and being a single mother to Trevor, I have to provide everything for my son. Some weeks ago, my son woke up with a very high fever. My first thought was that it was pneumonia but with the ongoing country wide health care workers’ strike I was incredibly concerned about how to get my son medical attention as we could not access the Nthambiro health center, the public health center closest to Kanjoo community. The realization that the only viable option was to take my son to a private hospital approximately 30Kms away from Kanjoo was very distressing.

Travelling from Kanjoo to Maua town (where the hospital is), is always a nightmare for me and for most of the locals. One, because the roads are very rough and either dusty or muddy, depending on the season. Two, the only means of transport are the motorbike taxis. Travelling with a sick boy on a motorbike and on such roads is far from ideal but there was no choice. On the way, we had to dismount the motorbike numerous times to let the rider go past, over and around obstacles (like a very deep pothole) to ensure our safety. All this, with a sick boy, who even though had taken pain killers, still had a high fever.

Fortunately, and to my great relief, we arrived at the hospital safe and sound. With all the public hospital in the Igembe region of Meru county closed due to the strike, this hospital was the refuge for almost all the patients in the region. The hospital was flooded and we had to wait in long queues. After running a number of tests on my son, he was diagnosed with tonsillitis and treated. With a smile on my face that my son did not require any inpatient treatment, we boarded a return motorbike and headed for home.

Approximately 10Kms from Kanjoo our motorbike lost control and the next thing I knew, we (the driver, myself and my son) were all lying on the road, my leg was fractured. Luckily my son and the rider were uninjured. Unaware of the situation that had befallen his mum, my son wanted me to get on my feet and continue with the journey. However, this was not to be the case. The driver proceeded to take my son home while a good Samaritan passing by the road with a private car gave me a ride back to the hospital. Approximately 2 hours after I left this hospital with my son and on my feet, I was now back with a fractured leg.
With my ankle joint dislocated and the leg sustaining a crack on the bone I had my leg plastered. Consequently, I had to be stuck at home for about two months. My son, though extremely young, has had to step in and help with domestic chores.

Due to my job, as Programme Officer to THI, I have access to this private healthcare, others do not. Mothers constantly find themselves in desperate situations worrying about a sick child, families struggle to overcome sickness. The morning that the Kanjoo community can wake up with a health clinic in the local area will be greatest and most welcomed dawn of our community.