KDF soldiers treat locals in Boni as dispensaries remain shut

A KDF patient attending to a patient PHOTO NATASHA NEEMA

Lamu,KENYA:The Kenya Defence Forces soldiers-KDF who are currently conducting the multi-agency security operation Linda Boni have come to the rescue of residents in the areas of the operation who were in dire need of medical care.

The operation which was launched in 2015 to flush out Al Shabaab militants believed to hiding deep within the Boni forest,takes place in three border counties on Lamu,Tana River and Garissa.

Raids and attacks by Al Shabaab militants in many parts of this counties have left many dispensaries and health centres grounded as the militants looted,vandalized and even torched some of them.

Health workers who used to work in these places have so far fled for their lives and many have vowed never to return.

Many residents in the affected places have been left to their own fate as they struggle to seek medical care.

However speaking on Monday, Assistant Inspector-General and Police Commander in charge of the operation Douglas Kirocho said the KDF was now offering medical services to all residents of Lamu,Tana River and Garissa free of charge having realized the desperate need for the services.

Kirocho says the initiative by the KDF is meant to save lives and restore the health of residents in these places.

The medical camp is located at Kotile and Masalani dispensaries all located within the Boni forest and have so far attended to over 200 people.

Kirocho says the dispensaries which are fully run and operated by medical experts and doctors from the KDF are open twice a week;on Mondays and Wednesdays.

He says the officers have been foced to juggle between their usual security duties and also ensuring they offer the much needed medical care and services to the affected communities.

Kirocho adds that the move is also aimed at strengthening the bond between locals and security officers conducting the operation.

“Our main objective even as we conduct this operation is to enhance the livelihoods here by provision of adequate security at all times. Apart from the normal duties,we have also embarked on a campaign to save lives. We have dispatched a medical services team from the KDF to areas like Kotile and Masalani.We issued referrals for cases we couldn’t handle,” said Kirocho.

He revealed plans to also sink water pans in the areas in order to deal with the current drought spell that has in turn caused water scarcity.

Boni residents are however calling on the national government to ensure all dispensaries that were closed almost four years ago owing to frequent Al Shabaab attacks are re-openened to enable for more effective health service delivery.

The dispensaries in Milimani, Basuba and Mangai have never been re-opened since 2014 after staff fled for their lives.

Many women and babies have lost their lives for lack of specialized care as pregnant women are only forced to rely on traditional birth attendants with no experience to deal with maternal and infant emergencies.

“We are really glad about what the KDF is doing for us.It means a lot that they can put their guns aside to attend to our sick people and we are more than humbled.We however hope that the government considers setting up a maternity wing for our women here.We have lost so many mothers and babies because of the situation,”said Ali Gubo,an elder of the Boni community.