“Good network is just as important to us as medicine is important to a sick person” – Catherine Suiya
Effective communication and connectivity have become an integral part of human life. The need for communication goes beyond just socializing with friends or catching up with family. Its importance has trickled down to other important aspects of life such as health and wellness. For the majority of us, good network is hardly ever an issue. We can call at ease, send texts or even surf the internet without difficulty. For other areas, however, communication is a difficult and tedious task that demands an entire day’s trip to get to an area with network coverage.
Olgulului used to be a good example of such an area until Safaricom erected a site which will provide the sub-location with a reliable network for calls, Mpesa and Internet. This has had so much impact on the lives of the local people. It has improved business, security and even health.
The Olgulului health centre has been a big beneficiary of the good network coverage. The just installed base station is situated just next to the Olgulului health centre. We spoke to Andrew Kiranto (nursing officer) and Catherine Suiya (Community Health Volunteer) about their roles in the health centre and the impact that the Safaricom has had in their everyday operations now that they are able to access the network. Find out how Engineer Joseph Kihurani is Connecting Communities To The Safaricom Network
October 23rd, 2020 will mark exactly 20 years since Safaricom came into the Kenyan market. Safaricom has been transforming the lives of Kenyans through innovative products & services and investing in the communities across the country. Olgulului is one of the communities now benefiting from the network.
Andrew Kiranto is a nursing officer at the Olgulului Health Centre based in Olgulului sub-location. The Health Centre was built in the 1970s and has been providing healthcare services to the six hundred locals in the area. Just two years ago, a maternity wing was added to the health centre and since then, expectant mothers have had the opportunity to have their babies delivered in the facility.
Andrew says that amongst the most common services they carry out at the facility include delivery of children through the maternity wing, minor surgeries to address injuries mostly caused by motorcycle accidents.
“Other cases include Sexually Transmitted Infections. The facility has enough medication and we know how to treat these ailments. We also get a couple of malnutrition cases which we have the capacity to treat.”, says Andrew.
For some cases, however, the health centre is not fully equipped to handle certain issues. In the event that they are presented with a case that they are not in a position to adequately address, they refer the patient to Namanga hospital, which is 30km away.
Before Safaricom improved their coverage in the Olgulului area, Andrew says that they experienced a lot of difficulties in communicating with their patients. The only way the patients would be aware of the availability of the health officer was only if they came all the way to the health centre to confirm for themselves. The health officers frequently go out for meetings or to offer treatment at various homes so it was common for patients to find no health officers at the health centre. These days, however, communication has been made easier as the patients can easily call Andrew and plan a meeting for them to come to the health centre and receive the support that they require.
“Since the Safaricom network was made available to us, I usually get up to thirty calls in a day, all of which are usually from my patients”, explains Andrew.
Andrew shares that since the Safaricom came and put up the base station that allows them to make and receive calls, he has had a renewed sense of fulfilment for his job as a medic because he is in a better position to reach out to his clients and offer services to them with ease.
“Rather than the patient spending their cash on fare, I prefer to go to them and offer treatment at their homes. While there, I use the opportunity to educate the neighbours about family planning and address any other health issue that might present itself.”
Communication to the sub-county hospital has also greatly improved seeing that when the health centre runs out of supply, they liaise easily and a new shipment is delivered.
“As a young medic, good internet connection means that I can log into the medical database to carry out research about various medicine, how they are administered and what side effects they might have. The Safaricom network has been really beneficial to all of us.”
Catherine Suiya is a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) in the area of Olgulului. The community health volunteers talk to women and educate them about the importance of giving birth at the hospitals as opposed to having their children at home. Most of the women around there have been giving birth at home which is often accompanied by many complications such as heavy bleeding. Without proper treatment, women can easily experience serious complications as a result.
“When they come to the hospital, we give them their own bucket, a pair of slippers and a baby shawl. We also educate them about bringing their newborns for clinic visits which helps protect the children from opportunistic diseases that newborns are susceptible to.”
Before the Safaricom network became available, Catherine and her team experienced a lot of difficulties when it came to communication. Many areas rely on coverage from ‘Vodacom’ which is a telecommunication company from Tanzania.
“Around this area where we are right now, there is no Vodacom coverage so this made it very difficult for communication to take place between the women and us. Since Safaricom came, however, it has gotten easier because we can call and receive calls during any time of day. It is also significantly cheaper because the roaming charges from Vodacom would be very expensive.”
Before The Network
“It was a risky situation because most times doctors and nurses would be called to go and offer support and treatment during the night. This area can be very dangerous because of the wildlife that roams at night. Fearing for their safety, the medical personnel would prefer not to go. This would then lead to the loss of newborns because doctors were forced to wait until it was safe for them to travel to their patients.”
Before, the team experienced a lot of challenges when it came to notifying the locals about upcoming clinics or medical events. One had to walk and pass the information by word of mouth or pay a motorbike to take them to different places. This was not only time consuming but also quite expensive. These days they simply call or text the women individually because there is the availability of good network services.
It is clear that being connected to the Safaricom network will change the lives of the residents of Olgulului.