Healthcare brings hope for the Turkana

Healthcare brings hope for the Turkana

The Turkana are some of Kenya’s most isolated and disadvantaged people. An estimated 90% of this pastoralist community live below the poverty line.

Serving them are a team of roughly 20 healthcare workers at a small medical clinic in Lokichogio. The clinic, run by African Inland Church, focuses on mothers and children.

Story and photos by Thorkild Jørgensen.

There are no doctors, but according to the Swedish paediatrician, Staffan Skogar, the two clinical officers (who are called doctors), the traditional midwives and other staff are very skilled.

Staffan volunteered to be sent to Lokichogio by Swedish organization, Scandinavian Doctors’ Bank.  Four times a year, Scandinavian Doctors’ Bank sends a doctor and a nurse or a midwife to the clinic in Lokichogio for three weeks.

We met Staffan in the paediatric ward where he and nutritionist, Etabo Robert Ekaran, and nurse, Kimutai Stellah, were inoculating and weighing infants and registering their development. A group of mothers were sitting with their malnourished children under a tree outside the clinic waiting to be given further treatment.

At the end of the week Staffan would fly with MAF to Nairobi and then back to Sweden after three weeks that have opened his eyes to a world that is very different to his.

‘What strikes me the most, is the poverty,’ Staffan says. ‘These Turkanas seem to have nothing to survive on. On top of that they live insecure lives because of cattle raids, people get malaria and so many diseases and infections from flies and bad water quality, and girls become wives and mothers when they are still children. Fortunately, the clinic has a good reputation, so people actually come here for treatment.’