Samburu and Turkana counties face similar social, cultural, economic and climatic challenges which are the contributing factors to the livelihood of a majority of their residents who are nomadic pastoralists. For decades both counties have experienced the poorest health indicators but devolution has been the game changer to boost their commitment to achieving their targets and contributing to the national and global family planning, reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health service goals among others.
Some of the pronounced changes since devolution in Turkana County include the expansion of the human resource base for doctors and nurses patient ratios from 1:70,000 and 1:5,200 in 2013 to 1: 20,000 and 1:232 in 2018 respectively. The County’s vast investment in health infrastructure has led to the increase in health facilities from 44 in 2013 t0 222 in 2018 reducing the coverage of facility distance from 50km to 15km.
These are some of the investments that Turkana County credits to the gains of devolution, visible during a learning visit to the county by the Samburu County Health Management Team (CHMT). The visit that took place between September 30, 2019 and October 4, 2019 was led by the Deputy Governor for Samburu County Honourable Julius Leseeto and eleven delegates from his County.
Access to Quality Health Services
Both Turkana and Samburu counties host referral hospitals operating in similar and unique areas of operation to ensure that their residents have access to quality health services. The Lodwar County Referral Hospital boasts of a unique blood bank, a key solution to the obstetric emergencies that both counties face. To ensure that the county is able to meet a consistent supply of blood for its emergency needs, the Turkana County Health Department conducts a monthly blood drive that collects up to 200 pints of blood. The referral hospital also has an oxygen manufacturing plant that offers a lifeline to the residents of Turkana County and beyond. Speaking during a tour of the hospital, Honourable Leseeto sighted that a blood bank was one of the urgent investments that Samburu County needed to invest in as a major solution to its obstetric emergencies.
Another take home for the Samburu County team was the capacity building of health facility workers and ensuring a constant supply of drugs and other commodities in all health facilities. This will go a long way to enhance service delivery for primary health care in all facilities, promoting decongestion of the county referral hospital.
Leadership and Governance
Turkana County also has an autonomous leadership with several directorates that promotes accountability and efficiency of services. These include the directorates of Medical Services, Preventive and health Promotion, National Agency Campaign against Drug Abuse (NACADA), Administration, Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Medical Supplies and Lodwar County Referral Hospital.
The delegates from Samburu also cited they would borrow from Turkana County’s leadership structure to promote efficiency in different operations of the health department. Hon. Julius Leseeto recommended that Turkana County adopt the ‘Letter of Commitment’ that was introduced by the USAID funded Afya Timiza project as a binding document with all implementing partners in the county to enhance accountability by all parties. The letter of commitment is a binding document that stipulates the roles of the government in partnership with other organisations.
For more details on this learning visit, download the Turkana Learning Visit Bulletin.