Kenya’s slum health facility offers lifeline to pregnant mothers amid pandemic

Pregnant Women

The Lengo medical clinic, located at the heart of one of the largest slums in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, is the only private health facility that has been providing maternity and general health services since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in the country in mid-March 2020.

The medical facility that is sandwiched between Nairobi’s Mukuru Kayaba and Fuata Nyayo slums, has been serving more than 50 pregnant women who seek antenatal care services on a daily basis.

“This facility has been of great help and a rescue center for low-income communities. Before its launch, pregnant mothers used to lose their lives due to too much bleeding while giving birth at home,” said Kennedy Kipchumba, the facility’s owner.

Since April 2020, the facility has been helping pregnant mothers to deliver at a minimum rate of 1,000 shillings (about 9.08 dollars) while the ones enrolled in public health insurance schemes would deliver for free.

The health facility has also benefited from subsidies anchored in a maternal health promotion project supported by Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

“I started this facility in 2007 during Kenya’s post-election violence, luckily during the tribal clashes, my facility was the one offering medical services to the injured, that is how I survived the clashes,” Kipchumba said.

Kipchumba said that Lengo facility is now a registered health center with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board (KMPDB) but operates on a social enterprise model.

“My passion is to provide medical services to the community; I do not have any donor funding to support my work, I will be very glad if I get one,” said Kipchumba. “I have seen long queues during this COVID-19 period, many of the patients can not even afford the face masks, sometimes I have to beg them so that they can put on masks as we treat them.”

Kipchumba regretted that slum residents have the wrong perception that he is wealthy and many have been flocking his clinics to solicit monetary help.

“The perception that I am financially endowed has even placed my security in jeopardy. There is a time when a group of young men accosted me asking for financial assistance and I had to oblige,” said Kipchumba.

He decried the presence of cartels that often extort money from business entities within Mukuru slums under the guise of delivering critical services like water and electricity.

“One has to bribe the people offering water and electricity services, the main challenge being electricity because it comes directly from the transformer where it is not being controlled, many of my machines have burnt down due to faulty connections,” said Kipchumba.

He said that he was looking for funds so that he can install a solar system that can be controlled.

Margaret Kwamboka who just delivered at the facility said that she was impressed by antenatal care she received.

“Lengo is the best facility I know around this area, it is cheap and the services are good despite it being located in the middle of a slum,” said Kwamboka.

At the moment Kipchumba has provided 14 job opportunities to communities residing in Nairobi’s Mukuru slums.

“I have 14 staff who interchange shifts because my facility is a 24-hour business,” said Kipchumba. Enditem

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