ISSUE 102, October 1-31, 2014
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Government now using traditional doctors to ensure quality health care By HENRY KAHARA For the health of Kenyans to improve, the Government must come up with alternative ways of convincing people to visit hospitals when taken ill. Africans have a tendency of procrastination instead of visiting hospitals despite the fact that some of the services offered are free.
Instead many look for alternative medicine through traditional doctors while others go to an extent of visiting witchdoctors. Julia Kimutai, a former Embakasi District Community Health focal point official says that incorporating untrained ‘professionals’ and training them on health basics was an effective way to save lives. Different communities have their own beliefs, some believe in witchcraft some oppose it. This makes their health to deteriorate since there is no remedy in witchcraft. In 2009 Embakasi District community Health service providers managed to train 11 witchdoctors operating from different parts of the district. “We decided to incorporate them since they are very influential and you find that some of them even get many attendants in a day compared to some dispensaries in the area,” says Kimutai. Although after training many of them did not respond positively to the training, one Hellen Koki decided to be an exception and stuck on to the noble profession. Koki, who lives in Mukuru kwa
Reuben in Nairobi, which is located in the former Embakasi district, reveals that she has been practicing witchcraft for the last 20 years. “I came to Nairobi in 1992. Before that, I used to live at my home in Kitui County where my father practiced witchcraft. So I acquired the skills from him,” she says. Koki, who is a widower, says that she has managed to bring up her three children through the practice of witchcraft. There is no one who has shown interest to join her in that profession. “Witchcraft is real but it doesn’t heal any sickness,” Koki says laughing. She explains: “What I do is that I know a person who is sick and the one who has been cursed by people. So if somebody comes to me and she is sick I refer her/him to hospital as we were trained while those who have been cursed I cleanse them.”
For now Koki has been referring some of her clients to private and public hospital and has developed a cordial relationship with some dispensaries in Embakasi. “My value for people is what makes me to refer them to hospital. My father taught us to acquire genuine wealth. So I can’t take money from a client if I know I will not be able to treat a certain disease,” the self-confessed witchdoctor says. Many people who visit her are chronic disease victims. Some communities relate chronic diseases with witchcraft.
Koki says she is also a ‘Christian’ and fellowships at Jumuia Mtakatifu Peter. “Witchcraft cannot heal any diseases. If you are sick you must visit a doctor for treatment. Witches who claim to heal sickness are liars.” Anne Kaleche, one of Koki’s clients, admits that she once visited Koki who then referred her to hospital where she was treated. “I had Tuberculosis (TB) and I thought I had been bewitched, but she diagnosed me she advised me to
Patients waiting to be attended to at a government health facility. Picture: Joseph Mukubwa go to hospital. Where I was treated and given medication,” Kaleche recalls. Kaleche then took the full dose religiously, has since recover and is back to normal. Koki says that the fact that there is no one who has died after seeking her services has built her name and even some of her clients refer people to her
“What I do is that I know a person who is sick and the one who has been cursed by people. So if somebody comes to me and she is sick I refer her/him to hospital as we were trained while those who have been cursed I cleanse them.” — Hellen Koki
regularly. Dorothy Gitari, a community health extension worker in Mukuru kwa Reuben says that she has been regularly visiting Koki to find out how she has been going on with her job.
“She has been very cooperative since she has been sending patients to hospitals. She has also been referring me to those who are reluctant to seek health solutions,” says Gitari. She adds: “Stigma is still there among people with HIV and AIDs. So you find that some people still fear to visit hospitals. So some of them end up visiting people like Koki but when referred to hospital they shy off and decide to stay at home.” Gitari explains: “When I meet such people I talk to them and they change their minds where we go to hospital and they are treated.”
Kenya imports maize from Tanzania due to deficit By HENRY OWINO Kenyan government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of United Republic of Tanzania to sell her an initial 50,000 metric tonnes of maize to curb shortage of the grain in the country. The national food insecurity in Kenya with respect to food availability, accessibility, utilisation and stability has declined. This has highly been contributed to poor harvests experienced in Rift Valley region by farmers, the bread basket of the country.
The little available maize cannot sustain the population majority who depend on maize as their staple food. As a result, the prices of essential staple crops have shot up especially maize, wheat and rice. On the other hand, supplies of beans, vegetables and other horticultural commodities now thrive in some parts of the country. The poor
harvests of maize in Trans Nzoia County made its prices oscillate in the market without any control. Due to this, the Government has intervened by importing maize from Tanzania to ensure food prices do not escalate beyond the reach of many consumers. The two governments agreed to procure 201,800 metric tonnes of maize from Tanzania as an initiative to moderate prices of maize and maize flour, the staple food for many Kenyans. The MoU between the two governments was signed by Minister for
Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives of Tanzania, Christopher Chiza and Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Kenya, Felix Koskei in Malabo, Tanzania. “The Government of Tanzania has agreed to sell to Kenya an initial amount of 50,000 metric tonnes from her National Food Reserve Agency. This quantity will be availed at a price of KSh2,650 per 90 kilogramme bag and delivered in Nairobi and Mombasa at an extra cost of KSh300 per bag,” Koskei said.
“As a Government, our focus is to bring the cost of production down through provision of subsidized fertilizer, use of mechanization and management of post-harvest losses of maize and other foods.” — Felix Koskei
Koskei said the remaining amount would be negotiated for with time as prices will vary depending on the availability of maize in Tanzania. He explained that the whole procurement procedure will be through private traders from both countries.
However, Koskei said the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) will offer storage facilities to the traders who may not have adequate storage. “As a Government, our focus is to bring the cost of production down through provision of subsidized fertilizer, use of mechanization and management of post-harvest losses of maize and other foods,” Koskei explained. To manage post-harvest waste, Koskei revealed that the Ministry of Agriculture acquired 36 mobile driers with a capacity of five tonnes per hour each at a total cost KSh248.4 million. The driers have been distributed in 36
major maize growing regions and will be based at the community storage facilities in 36 sub-counties. The Ministry also promised to build more storage facilities in different parts of the country especially where there are no National Cereal and Produce Board stores. So far 36 sites for such stores have been identified in major grain producing regions in the country. Already 13 are under construction each at the cost of approximately KSh42 million. Farmers are, therefore, urged to improve efficiency in their production so that they are competitive and are able to enter the international and regional markets. The initiative is seen as enhancing trade and reviving the spirit of East Africa Community that would ensure affordable food to the member states, cut costs of importing food from other regions when food is available within community members and improve the economies of the nations involved.