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“It is a dream come true,” - Jacinta Malemba, Clinical Officer and In-Charge, Ndilidau Dispensary.
Miracles babies is what she called them. But now Jacinta Malemba, the clinical officer in charge of Ndilidau Dispensary in Taita Taveta County no longer has to worry about helping women deliver in the dark without electricity.
She recalls when an expectant woman was rushed into the maternity wing at night and as she was delivering, the lights went out. It wasn’t the first time. Power blackouts were the norm.
This time, the lights went out as the mother was delivering. Without an alternative source of power, the quick thinking Jacinta used the security guard’s torch and with help from the woman's husband. A nervy experience for the medical staff and the couple, but the baby was successfully delivered.
“It is a dream come true,” said Jacinta, speaking about the installation of the solar power in the hospital through the Climate Change Adaptation project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.
Months after the solar power was installed at the dispensary located in the Tsavo Conservation Area to build the climate resilience of the local community, the impact has been palpable.
“The biggest impact is on Linda Mama services. We get more funds because we serve more women. Earlier when we had power blackouts, we couldn’t make claims for services because the patients would have been transferred to the hospital in Taveta. Our income has now increased. We save more and reinvest back into the dispensary,” said Jacinta.
Linda Mama is a Swahili phrase that means 'protect women'. The Linda Mama Services is a Kenyan government health scheme that ensures pregnant women and infants have access to quality and affordable health services. Under the programme, health centres file financial claims based on the number deliveries conducted monthly.
Prior to the installation of the solar power by WWF-Kenya, Jacinta said the hospital had to refer most of the pregnant women because of power blackouts. Even when they had deliveries, they still couldn’t make every claim within the stipulated time because of lack of steady power supply.
Speaking to a WWF-Kenya team that visited the dispensary seven months after the installation of the solar power, Jacinta said the health centre's income from Linda Mama Services had increased. They were also making considerable savings from low power bills.
“We have bought a comfortable examination couch and lamp, a stethoscope and blood pressure machine for every clinical officer, a blood shaker, repaired an old computer and bought a new one,” said a delighted Jacinta.
The dispensary serves 12 villages with a population of about 8,000 people but because of offering services round the clock and the revamped laboratory, it has started drawing patients from farther away.
“This dispensary draws patients from as far as 20km because of the equipped laboratory,” said Maria Nareku Jonathan, the Chairperson, Ndilidau Health Management Committee.
To improve the health centre services, the management committee is seeking financial assistance to build an underground water tank.
Since the hospital is located in a wildlife dispersal area, the dispensary management is also seeking support to put up a solar fence and floodlight in the staff quarters to ward off hyenas that frequent the area.
Ndilidau is one of five health centres in the Tsavo Conservation Area that were solarised through the WWF-Kenya BMZ-funded project, the others being: Rekeke Dispensary, Rekeke Model Health Centre (wards), Mandela Dispensary, and Bamako Dispensary. These dispensaries serve thousands of people in the vast sub-landscape.