Establishment of a medical laboratory in a village dispensary brings relief to residents
The establishment of a medical laboratory in a dispensary in the uppermost part of Kirinyaga County has brought great relief to residents who now access one stop medical services in their village. Joshua Mbai dispensary laboratory that was opened by Governor Waiguru in January 2022 has brought a sign of relief to residents of Githure and neighboring villages who earlier had to travel over five kilometers in search of government medical laboratory services.
The dispensary that serves about 4,000 residents has been in operation since 1993 but patients have had to be referred to other facilities for medical tests. They either had to travel kilometers away to Kiamutugu Health Center or to private facilities, thus spending money on fare and for the lab services. The referrals were not only costly but time consuming and could at times lead to delayed diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
With the opening of the laboratory, patients are now able to get comprehensive medical services as well as get early diagnosis for ailments thus enabling timely intervention. Paul Gichohi, a resident of Rung’eto narrated how tedious it was to travel all the way to Kiamutugu Health Center whenever they needed some tests done. He said that due to the high numbers at the health center, one would spend many hours waiting for their turn to be served. With the laboratory services within their village, it now takes just a short time for consultation, diagnosis and treatment.
Mary Njeri from Kiamugumo area is another happy beneficiary of the lab project. She used to attend diabetes clinics at the neighboring county’s Embu County Hospital which is almost five kilometers away. Since the opening of the laboratory within her locality, she has been attending her clinics at Joshua Mbai Dispensary which she says has saved her a lot of time and money. Njeri says that she attends her monthly clinics in the morning and then she proceeds to attend to her daily chores. “We are very happy about this facility since we have access to medical care and we are not charged anything for it. I am thankful to Governor Waiguru for bringing such a crucial service to us”, she said.
Another patient, Diana Njeri said that before the lab was opened, it meant that without money, one could not get treatment since one had to use money to go to a private facility within their area or travel to the government facility where they would spend money on transport. The officer in charge of the facility, Samuel Ngumo, said that since the opening of the laboratory, the number of patients visiting the dispensary has increased from 800- 1300 per month with the lab serving around 13 patients per day. “More patients are now coming here since they are assured of comprehensive services” He said. He noted that for advanced tests that may not be conducted at their laboratory, the facility has a rider who is sent to take the samples to Kerugoya County and Referral Hospital after which the results are sent back to the dispensary. This means that referrals to other hospitals have been minimized. He noted that the within the short time the lab has been operating, they have been able to diagnose seven TB cases that would otherwise have remained undiagnosed and probably advanced to critical or fatal stages. He said that the dispensary offers outpatient services that include TB services, pre-natal and post-natal services, child welfare clinics, and pharmacy and laboratory services among others.
Joshua Mbai laboratory is one of the 19 stalled dispensary projects that Governor Waiguru has undertaken to complete. Other facilities already completed and opened include Kiamwathi, Kianjiru and Kamwana while Umoja, Rikithiga among others are ready for operationalization.
Completion of the projects, which were left incomplete by the previous regime, is aimed at boosting the provision of primary healthcare in the county by enhancing accessibility for thousands of residents who have been travelling long distances to get to the nearest health facilities. “When people access quality primary healthcare, they do not need to visit higher level hospitals which can then be eased off to handle complex health matters and critically ill patients” said the governor while opening one of the facilities. She reiterated her administration’s commitment towards the improvement of health infrastructure and service delivery with an aim of achieving universal health coverage in the county.