We opened our health centre in the Kawese community on 1 July 2019. Due to the high birth rate and infant mortality, we focus on maternal-child health and reproductive health in addition to general medicine. The facility has the first ultrasound machine in the sub-county and good laboratory equipment. A fully equipped delivery room, several counselling rooms, a pharmacy and a contact point where women affected by violence can turn to are located in the health centre.
Sustainability – The State of Kenya will cover running costs
Running costs (staff, medicines, electricity, maintenance, etc.) are borne by the Kenyan Ministry of Health. The ownership of the health centre remains with our organisation as well as the land on which it was built. The Ministry of Health commits itself in a cooperation agreement to finance the ongoing operation. If certain minimum standards (sufficient staff, availability of medicines, free access for the population to legally defined treatments) are not met, we have the option to terminate the agreement. Since the Ministry of Health has classified our centre as a model health centre for the region and we have the only ultrasound machine in the wider area, we assume that the Ministry of Health will be very keen to meet the set standards and that successful cooperation is guaranteed. Furthermore, we will enter into additional cooperations with NGOs specialised in the health sector in order to be able to provide additional staff and expertise for specific areas such as HIV-Aids prevention, family planning etc.
Access to health care for all
The health centre has treatment rooms, a laboratory, a pharmacy, a delivery room, rooms for in-patient stays, a septic water filtration system and several large water tanks so that there is enough water even in the dry season. A medicinal herb garden is being planted in the courtyard, so that patients can be offered immune system-strengthening and other medicinal plants to complement their treatment. In addition to the traditional staff (“clinical officers”, nurses, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, administrators), there is a specially trained nurse and a “Youth Friendly Centre” next to the hospital, where young people can anonymously enquire about sexuality and growing up issues, as well as have access to contraceptives.
By building, equipping and providing the staffing and operating costs of the centre for the first six months, Make Me Smile has laid an important foundation for health care in Kolwa East to succeed through government support. Thus, we have set a standard that makes the health centre a showcase model and which the government has committed to uphold. Make Me Smile and the Kawese community decided to partner with the government to create a best practice example of how to run a health centre cooperatively, using our model project as an example.
With the opening, we have taken the first step towards creating a corruption-free state hospital with good quality medical care. With the cooperation agreement, the Kenyan Ministry of Health undertakes to comply with quality standards, to cover the running costs of the health centre and to actually provide treatment free of charge. As our facility has been awarded as a model health centre, we assume that the government will endeavour to adhere to this agreement. In case of shortages, Make Me Smile will support the health centre if possible, but will use this support very sparingly to keep the government accountable. A permanent say through the right to chair the health centre committee enables Make Me Smile to help shape the development of the health centre. In addition, we have been able to build up a large network in the health sector in the project region over the past years, which we will use for the interests of the health centre. The operational management and project coordination are carried out by the health centre committee, in which all project partners are represented.