Health for the Maasai – Protection for the MaraAs an expectant mother, giving birth in a well-equipped health station is anything but a matter of course in many places in Kenya. Here in Germany, we can hardly imagine what it means to travel 100 kilometers for a prenatal checkup. WWF wants to change this situation in the model projects in the Mara landscape and therefore not only protect habitats, but also improve the living conditions for the local people.
WWF staff member Nina Dohm at the inauguration of the new health station © Nina Dohm
Protecting natural resources and safeguarding people's well-being – you can't have one without the other. "If you don't have a future for yourself and your family, you can't worry about protecting nature", says Johannes Kirchgatter, Project Manager for Eastern Africa at WWF Germany.
Developing sustainable perspectives for the future together with the local people is therefore a focal point of WWF's work and the basis for successful nature conservation. The first and highest priority is always to provide at least basic health care.
Ensuring health care
Delivery of materials for the new health center © Austine Okande / WWF Kenya
WWF therefore aims to establish well-equipped and effective health clinics in three community conservation areas in the Mara landscape: In the Trans Mara Conservation Area (TCA), the Siana Conservation Area (SCA) and the Loita Conservation Area (LCA).
Although there is already a health post in each of the three community conservation areas, all of them function poorly so far. With WWF's support, these three are to become a Model for health care to be expanded in the region. The goal is to provide basic medical care to everyone within reach.
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A health station for Siana
In the Siana Community Conservation Area, WWF already has a major success to show for its efforts: The construction and equipping of the Nkoilale health station has already been completed. "More than 15.000 community members now have access to baseline health care in this remote area of the Mara landscape," said Johannes Kirchgatter.
Developments in the area of prenatal care are particularly encouraging: The number of women giving birth at the health station has more than doubled. There are now modern delivery beds, baby warmers, incubators and other equipment at the maternity and prenatal ward. And expectant mothers now no longer have to travel more than 100 kilometers to access prenatal care services.
"We have also been able to significantly improve the treatment options at the Nkoilale health station," reports Johannes Kirchgatter. "The staff has now more medicines and better equipment is available and can, above all, treat common diseases like Treat pneumonia, waterborne diseases, respiratory infections, skin diseases, typhoid, malaria and a range of childhood diseases much better, as well as providing advice and preventive care on general health topics such as child nutrition or family planning."
The health center and all its facilities are now solar powered. As a result, hot showers are available, and refrigerators can run 24 hours a day. Thus, the storage of medicines. Laboratory samples secured. The people in the Mara region live widely dispersed. Some of them still lead a nomadic life. Medical care is poor, often requiring more than a day's walk to reach a doctor at all.
In Narok County, which includes large parts of the Mara landscape, there are almost 30 health stations providing basic medical care for the population. But they are unevenly distributed, and many function poorly. Many of them are even in a state of half-finished construction at best. There is no sufficient infrastructure, hardly any medicine, lack of equipment and trained staff. Even the most urgent medical needs of patients often cannot be addressed.
The lack of medical care leads to many problems, most of all the high infant mortality rate, more than 40 percent of which are due to infectious diseases that are actually easy to treat, such as malaria. Expectant mothers avoid the often overcrowded and poorly equipped health stations, which further exacerbates the situation. Preventable birth defects are often the result.
The insufficient capacity of the health stations also means that patients have to be turned away time and again. These patients do not reach other stations due to the lack of infrastructure. Even at night, care is difficult because there are no shelters for health workers, emergency shelters are too far away, or there is simply insufficient electricity available.
WWF wants to improve the situation on the ground
With the construction and expansion of the three health stations in the mara landscape, WWF aims to improve the situation of the local people. With the help of your donations we can:
Refurbish accommodation facilities or expand it so that more people can be admitted
modernize treatment rooms, or. equip with medical technology in the first place
Acquisition of basic Nursing equipment such as blankets, sheets and beds
Basic water and electricity supply ensure the sustainability of the investments, for example with water filters, water storage tanks and an (emergency) power supply with solar panels
Urgently needed Medication procure
Close to the ward Staff accommodation finish
The Sustainability of the investments Is to be secured through gradually increasing support for the upkeep of the health stations from nature tourism and small contributions from local communities
A network of protected areas and sustainably used natural space – larger than Austria and Switzerland combined – is intended to safeguard East Africa's natural treasures in the long term: Unganisha.
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