More than 10 children, mostly under the age of ten years and two adults from Ngomeni ward, Mwingi North subcounty in Kitui are currently recuperating at Garissa Referral Hospital after they were allegedly bitten sand flies and suffered from Kal azaar.
The victims who hails from along Kitui-Tana river border are said to have sought treatment from Garissa since Kitui hospitals lack the requisite medicine to cure the Kal azaar disease.
Phillip Mutemi, a doctor at Garissa Referral Hospital said Kal Azaa or Leshmaniasis is a disease caused by sandflies which stay in anthills.
Mutemi said the symptoms of the disease is mostly a swollen stomach.
Regina Kasyoka, a mother of three is a sad mother after one of her children, a four-year-old succumbed to the illness.
“My three children were infected with this disease, one of them was discharged, the second born is here with me in the hospital while my last born, a four-year-old passed on three days ago,” sad Kasyoka narrated.
She said the body of her child is at the Hospital mortuary but is in dilemma how the body will get home for she has drained all her savings.
Japheth Kavali from Masyunga area of Tseikuru ward started his treatment journey at Isiolo after his son developed swelling of stomach six months ago.
He was admitted at Tseikuru hospital but was later transferred to Mwingi Level 4 Hospital where he was then told that there was no medication at the moment and sought treatment in Garissa.
They were admitted at the facility.
“Doctors in Garissa have been helpful as I can see some change as the disease has disturbed my six-year-old son for six months now,” narrated Japheth.
He however decried that getting medication from as far as Garrissa is expensive and urged Kitui leaders to step up and provide medication in all heath facilities.
Phillis Joseph,a mother of a 22-year-old was admitted at the facility for two months.
She, was the first Kitui patient to be admitted at the Referral Hospital after her son developed symptoms of a swollen stomach.
She said before the actual cause was defined, she had incurred a lot of expenses at the facility.
Nathan Muthui, another parent urged Kitui county government to ensure camels that have crossed to Kitui county are herded back to Tana River as co-existing with them has proved disturbing.
“We urge Kitui government to equip all health facilities with the medication Garissa county has to treat this illness so that it can be cheaper for everyone facing this challenge that is mostly affecting our children,” said Nathan.
He also decried that the stay at the hospital is expensive as they have to incur lab charges and daily hospital bed charges.The affected areas are, Mandongoi, Ngomano all the way to Tseikuru.
“Most affected people who cannot afford the treatment at home have sought to treat the disease using herbs,” said Nathan.
Antony Muthui, another Ngomeni local brought his son to the facility a month ago.
Antony said he first went to Mwingi Level 4 Hospital where his son underwent abdominal checkups though he was later told that there was no medication.
“My child was weak before we got here but his heath has since improved,” said Antony.
He pleaded with Kitui county to ensure there are drugs in hospitals so that the most vulnerable nursing the ailment at home receive affordable treatment.
Peter Muthengi, another Ngomeni resident who has his five-year-old daughter admitted at the hospital decried high cost of examinations fee which according to him range from from ksh.500-2500
“We feel abandoned, we plead with Kitui county government to come to our rescue,” he stated.
Muthengi stated that it is shameful for Kitui locals to receive treatment in Garissa yet Kitui has hospitals too.
Ngomeni Member of County Assembly, Eliud Mutati who had visited the patients said the issue of camels causing havoc in Kitui had become too much.
Mutati stated that it was indeed sad for young children to be undergoing such pains.
The MCA who belongs to Kitui Health committee said the assembly recently passed a supplementary budget which included money allocation in the heath sector but there are no drugs in hospitals.
“Do not worry my people, God will heal you,” he told the patients in conclusion.
A health worker at the facility said it was saddening as most of the affected patients are indeed vulnerable.
“The cost of preventing Leishmaniasis is cheaper than the treatment and I urge Kitui county government to ensure treatment is done in Kitui for easier and cheaper services,” said the worker.
He also disclosed that they had gotten reports of another patient that had succumbed to the disease while at home.Kitui Heath Committee chairman Phillip Nguli said, Ksh.100 million was allocated to the Health Ministry to cater for utilities and usage in all the 3 Level 4 and 11 Level 3B Hospitals across the county in supplementary budget that was passed in April.
However, when the Kitui Chief Officer in charge of Health and sanitation, Dr. Richard Muthoka he said he had received information concerning the patients in Garissa and had sent surveillance team to check on the matter.
Muthoka wondered why the patients sought treatment in Garissa while Kitui has so many hospitals.
“When they are in Garissa, we cannot intervene on how they are managed and have to bear treatment costs as Kitui County Health Insurance Cover [KCHIC] only addresses cases for patients seeking treatment within Kitui,” stated Muthoka.
The CO also revealed that the drugs to treat the illness are given free by the national government and the county government only needs to notify the National government in order to be supplied with the drugs.
“Who said there are no drugs? We just need to alert the national government to send the medications after the cases are reported and, in a day, we begin attending to the patients,” said Muthoka
“I do not know who is advising them to seek treatment in Garissa, maybe it is because the cases are rampant in Garissa and management is better which to some extent it is not right” he further said.
The patients should have sought treatment in Kitui as it is expensive even for relatives to go check on them in Garissa,said Muthoka.