PanAfricare Blog

Tackling Measles Outbreak through Health Outreach Programs


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Akutan Imuron brings her three-year-old son, Ngatotin Imuron, to a medical outreach site in Nakitokirion village in Loima, Turkana County. She carefully unwraps and lowers Ngatotin from her back and holds him in her arms for the nurse to examine. The outreach site, under a tree, is buzzing with activity; medical officers are conducting MUAC tests, others are measuring children’s height, while some are giving injections and dispensing medicine. It is a complete mobile “hospital,” with Akutan and another hundred mothers checking their health and that of their children.

Akutan is here to have her son vaccinated against measles, a disease whose outbreak has just been reported in the area. Without the medical outreach, she would have been forced to make a treacherous journey of 18 km on foot to the nearest health facility in Lomil.

 Baby Ngatotin receives his measles vaccine at Nakitokirion outreach site

                                                                                 Nakitokirion outreach site

Loima Sub County is expansive, covering an area of 9,113 sq. kilometers. The Sub County has only 40 working health facilities serving a population of 123,000 people. Access to health services remains a key challenge for most residents, with many people forced to travel up to 35 km, against WHO’s recommended 5 km distance, to access a health facility.

Abdiraman Musa, Loima Sub County Medical officer, says outreaches have helped a lot in bringing health services closer to a community in constant movement. “The pastoralist nature of the communities here is a big challenge, as they migrate further from the few established facilities. The best approach, therefore, has been outreaches where we offer services such as vaccination, curative, nutritional, antenatal services, WASH and many more.”

According to Francis Eloiloi, the Nursing Officer in charge of Lomil dispensary, the outreaches bring health services closer to people, enabling more people to receive treatment. He says constant monitoring of cases found during outreaches is crucial to ensure full recovery. “We try to ensure that every two weeks we return here in Nakitokirion to check on the progress and screen more people.”

 Medics measure height and enter children's records

He adds that an outreach comprises many people, each carrying out different roles. “We have community health promoters (CHPs), administrators and clinical officers. They all work in coordination to ensure the success of an outreach.”

As Loima Sub County grapples with a measles outbreak, dozens of children have already been infected. Outreaches such as the one in Nakitokirion provide a chance for health providers to spread awareness, screen and vaccinate children. Abdiraman cites the porous borders with neighboring countries and the constant movement of communities as the reason for the spread of viral diseases.

Outreaches are very important for safeguarding community health and responding to outbreaks. Communities living in remote locations, such as those in Nakitokirion, continue to face the challenge of having to travel far to access health services. Outreaches remain their salvation for gaining the much-needed medical services.


                                                 By Dominic Kosgei, Communications Officer. PanAfricare Kenya