The camel clinic caravan took 10 days to reach the remote village of Nkorika deep in Samburu County, after trekking for more than 25 km from its setting off base in Kirimon, Laikipia County. Delivering and providing family planning, basic curative medicine with relevant HIV/AIDS component services, including HIV/AIDS Counseling and Testing, the camel clinic had braved a harsh terrain and waded over flooded lagas (these are seasonal rivers and drain basins)to deliver conventional integrated health services to the underserved and unreached nomadic Samburu communities that straddle the two vast and arid counties.
At the same time, its motor mobile clinic, christened 'Yellow Land Rover' that provides door to door services to remote poor communities would leave it's base at Mpala Ranch to deliver family planning, basic curative and HIV/AIDS services, to the satellite poor communities surrounding the large conservation areas of Laikipia and commercial flower farms that dot Laikipia County.
At Nkorika, the villagers were waiting for the camel mobile clinic anxiously, having been mobilized a week earlier by a community worker working with Community Health Africa Tru(CHAT).The community has been benefiting from the camel clinic for more than 4 years now.
'I had never taken an HIV test in my lifetime. When I heard through a mobilizer that the camel mobile clinic was camping for two days at Nkorika, my husband and I decided to come together because I am pregnant and we heard about the importance of taking the HIV/AIDS test together', says Naisula Lookjek, 32, and a mother of five. She had just delivered her baby at the time of this interview.Resulting from the visit, she chose a five year contraception protection method, Jadelle. For her and most dwellers in this remote, nomadic village, the camel clinic is their only chance to see a doctor in months.
On average, 55,000 men, women and school children are reached with HIV prevention messages each year, and the number counseled and tested rose from 600 in 2005 to more than 5, 000 in 2010. In 2009, a Global Fund grant through Care Kenya enabled CHAT to expand its reach in the wider two districts and reached more than 16, 000 people with HIV counseling and testing.
'This was a great achievement thanks to Global Fund because our resources are overstretched when it comes to reaching such a big number of a pastoralist population and in a difficult terrain, ' said Kimanzi from CHAT. The comments of the village headman sums it all; 'This camel mobile clinic is very important to us here because there are no medical services around here. The nearest hospital is at Maralal, more than 20 kms away' says Nkorika village headman, Isack Liamu.