Health experts argue that when compared, the diseases and health conditions in mobile populations do not differ substantially from those of sedentary populations, but pastoralists suffer higher infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates, and higher deaths of children aged below five (Chabasse et al., 1985; Brainard, 1986; Munch, 2007).
For over five decades, governments regarded pastoralism as ‘backward’, economically inefficient and environmentally destructive, leading to policies that have served to marginalize and undermine pastoralist systems. Mandera was one such perfect example.
Healthcare in Mandera had one of the worst health indicators in Kenya before devolution but today it is a shining example of transformation and improved services.
Mandera residents had little or no access to healthcare services, safe drinking water and diseases ranged from malaria, diarrhea, respiratory diseases, brucellosis, measles and dengue fever just to mention a few.
Before devolution it was a story of high maternal/infant mortality, poor child survival and disease burden were higher than the rest of the country. The sorry state of health services was as a result of inadequate infrastructure, pharmaceutical supplies and access to healthcare due to the number of the primary healthcare facilities in relation to the sparse nomadic population.
Over and above infrastructure and personnel challenges, inability to retain and attract skilled health workers continued to affect the quality of healthcare services while facilities operated with only three percent staffing level, far from the recommended WHO standard of three health workers per 1,000 populations. Timely and adequate referral system has been one of the pronounced problems in attending to emergencies and saving human life especially those threatened by prolonged and complicated labour among women of child bearing age.
Today, the county administration is proud to have made strategic interventions and fresh investments. The county government has rehabilitated and equipped 52 health facilities which it inherited while operating at 10 percent capacity, hired staff and built new health centers.
- Hired additional 360 medical professionals bringing the total to 500
- Added eight new health facilities bringing the total to 60 in the County
- Rehabilitated and upgraded Mandera Referral Hospital
- First caesarian section delivery at Takaba Hospital
- Hired seven ambulances with ICU medevac capability
- Purchased seven ambulances run directly by County Government
- Opened outreach medical services for immunization in six sub counties