Project #8267

Outreach for vital health services in rural Kenya

by Merlin USA
Merlin Outreach visits in Turkana
Merlin Outreach visits in Turkana

Turkana, West Kenya, is not an easy place to live or work.  Many of the communities that Merlin serves across Turkana are very, very remote.  In order to make sure these people get the health care they so desperately need, Merlin regularly operates a mobile clinic in the village of Lokicheles (a five hour drive away from the nearest hospital).

Merlin’s mobile clinics are designed to confront the particular health challenges faced by the community it is operating in. In the wake of the 2011 drought and the extreme food shortages that hit the people of Turkana, that means nutrition, as well as vaccinations to protect people against diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria.

The clinic targets children under five, as their vulnerability to malnutrition and disease is particularly acute. In addition to the vaccinations, the children’s mothers are given nutrition substitutes like Plumpy Nut ® (a peanut-based paste) and a corn soya blend, which they will feed to the children until the clinic is next in the area. The children are also weighed and measured to check for immediate signs of malnutrition.

In Turkana there are countless stories of how people have been affected by the drought. One mother told Merlin staff that her eight month old baby was cured of severe acute malnutrition as a result of Merlin’s feeding and prays the program will continue. Another - who walked for six hours to attend the distribution today – said that of their original flock of 50 goats and camels, only 20 are still alive.

Clearly, the health challenges faced by the people of Turkana are immense. Mobile clinics are an absolutely crucial weapon in the fight to overcome these challenges. That is why I’m asking you to support Merlin’s “Outreach for vital health services in rural Kenya”.

Merlin's Kisii office

Merlin Kenya Updates

- 30 health facilities have been supplied with essential drugs & medical consumables mainly for emergency response and preparedness.

- 54,123 beneficiaries were treated for various illnesses in the project supported outreaches according to national guidelines.

- On-the-job training on rational use of drugs and for improving quality of health care is being provided to outreach teams.

- Additional outreach equipment has been procured to ensure quality services are provided. Among items procured and distributed to various outreach teams were: anthropometric tools (30 height boards and 30 weighing scales) for use by the outreach teams in screening and accurate referral of malnourished cases according to the IMAM guidelines, and foldable furniture (15 tables and 15 chairs) to facilitate the teams when providing services in the resource limited settings.

- 2 social mobilizers supported by 4 clinical officers and 4 nurses have been providing psychosocial support to caregivers of severely malnourished children admitted to stabilization centres (SCs).

 - All admissions to SCs, upon discharge are referred to the nearest outpatient sites in the county (OTP) site for continued care. Cases that require specialized care as a result of illnesses are referred to specialized clinics that will provide the necessary care needed. Examples of such clinics are comprehensive care clinics (CCCs) for HIV clients and TB clinics for TB clients.


Turkana Specific Activities

- Merlin facilitated the training of 35 DHMT members, 15 CHEWs and 100 CHWs from the 3 supported districts on community strategy. This led to establishment of 2 community units in Loima and Turkana South Districts. The trainings were conducted according to the MOH curriculum.

- Merlin participated in mass distribution of azithromycin, for prevention of trachoma, which is on the increase.


Kisii Specific Activities

- Contract signed with CARE/CDC for continuation of HIV/AIDS project through Sep 2013.

- During the past quarter, 10 new facilities initiated ART services in Kisii facilities, bringing decentralization to 44 of 49 Merlin-supported facilities.

- The HIV testing and counseling (HTC) project in Kisii changed its strategy from community outreach to workplaces, necessitated by need to reach tea factory workers: 637 workers at 4 factories were tested for HIV, with 11 testing positive (1.7%).

Stella Moraa Gwaro, Merlin community health worker
Stella Moraa Gwaro, Merlin community health worker
Mother & child, outreach distribution Sasak, Kenya
Mother & child, outreach distribution Sasak, Kenya
A Merlin health worker and patient,Turkana
A Merlin health worker and patient,Turkana

Each week Merlin teams from all over the world, report back to HQ.  Our team in Kenya is based in the capital Nairobi, and there is also a sub-office in Kisii (in the west of the country.) This is an abridged version of the most recent update (week 36) from our team in Kenya :

Turkana Activities

Health, Nutrition and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Program

  • Community health workers were selected from the Lokitaung local community to be part of health training in September.
  • Hygiene promotion lessons were given on hand washing and how households should use aqua tabs to purify water.
  • Merlin’s WASH officer conducted an assessment of Lochor emoit, Lochwa and Lokichar health centers, to check the status of WASH facilities ahead of the planned renovations.
  • 42 health and nutrition sessions took place in permanent clinics or as part of the outreach clinics program.

Safe Motherhood Project

  • Safe motherhood activities were implemented in 4 outreach sites – 2 in both Lokichar and Lodwar.
  • 9 health education sessions were conducted to over 900 people, with health messaging on family planning, nutrition, causes and prevention of malaria, prevention of anemia in pregnancy, danger signs during delivery and hygiene promotion.

Disability Project

  • 30 health workers from Turkana were selected to be trained on how to identify and offer services to disabled community members.
  • Merlin’s disability project officer took part in further training in Lodwar, learning about how to care for disabled people within the community.

Kisii Activities

HIV testing and counselling (HTC)

  • The mobile HTC activities were assessed; at from September workplaces - primarily tea factories will be targeted, where the assessments identified a need. Negotiations have commenced on actual service delivery and how that will fit into the schedule of the factories and factory workers.
  • 2 youth outreach events took place.  60 youths participated in behavior change messages geared toward encouraging the participants to adopt safer sex practices alongside seeking HTC services as an entry point to HIV prevention, care and treatment.

HIV Project - Chagua Maisha

Chagua Maisha (offering HIV prevention services to the community, including prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, in partnership with Care) year 2 is winding up on September 29, and the finishing touches are being made to ensure that the work-plan for year 3 has been completed.


  • Drugs and medicine supplies were delivered to ten health clinics.
  • Painting of pediatric and general wards in four health facilities (Nduru, Iyabe district hospitals, and Etago sub-district hospital) are 95% complete. Redecoration of the local hospital is also complete and the installation of children’s play equipment continues.
  • The maternity clinic in Etago in has now been completely renovated, ready for the hand-over to the Ministry of Health later in the year. A final report is being prepared.
  • Children’s’ drawing and art books have been delivered to the Merlin office and will be distributed to clinics shortly.
  • 32 health and nutrition education sessions were conducted for more than 2600 people.
  • Data collection from health facilities continues and data entry for August HIV/ TB and Malaria data continues, 72.5% reports have been updated.

 Merlin can only continue to do all these and new health activities because of your support.  Thank you.


Merlin worker Agnes, teaches vital health messages
Merlin worker Agnes, teaches vital health messages

Update on Kenya Rural Health Services

The Merlin Kenya team co-ordinates a huge health and nutrition program.  Teams continue to respond to the food crisis with emergency mobile and outreach teams in the arid areas of the north west of Kenya.  The teams run safe motherhood programs in three districts of Turkana and malaria and primary health care projects in Kisii (in central, west Kenya).  A program focusing on disabled people has just begun, to improve access to the more focused health and well being care required. 

Some of Merlin’s activity highlights

  • Over the year (July ’11 – June ’12) 252 outreaches visits were conducted over 21 sites. Services included; vaccinations, primary health care, family planning, health education and micro-nutrient supplementation targeted mainly at children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, the elderly and disabled.
  • 75,456 people (that’s 74% of the target population) were involved in key health message presentations, such as why hygiene, nutrition and vaccinations are important for general good health and well being.
  • There was a 41% increase (2,326) of children fully immunized under 1 year old,
  • and a 13% increase (4,614) in the number of families using family planning.
  • 5,381 people (57%) were counseled for HIV/AIDS, and a 46% (4,484) increase in those tested.
  • 10 health workers were trained in lifesaving skills in emergency and essential obstetric & neonatal care in Nakuru (west Kenya).
  • 20 women group leaders were trained on safe motherhood basic concepts to help increase awareness on maternal and child health care services.
  • Community liaison officers, midwives and health officers were trained on communication skills and assisting communities in accessing health care ie. how to hold village community meetings, integrate with local community cultures and encourage participation in health services.
  • Medical and surgical equipment, drugs, antibiotics and supplies such as gloves, syringes, linen, soaps /detergents for hand washing were given to Merlin supported health facilities.

Safemotherhood Program

  • All 3 health facilities within the districts now offer emergency obstetric care. Merlin continues to supply the necessary equipment and medicines.
  • 152 obstetric and gynecological complications were referred to Lodwar hospital.
  • 9,477 pregnant women attended antenatal classes, however only 17% (1,638) visited the ante-natal clinics (ANC) on four occasions, the number Merlin recommends.
  • 1,516 pregnant women (out of the 6,777) were assisted in childbirth by skilled health workers.  Efforts to increase the number of deliveries by skilled attendants are still mired by both the large distances women live from the facilities and cultural barriers. Merlin hope to increase the number of assisted deliveries at health facilities, by changing behavior and is exploring ways of discussing with communities appropriate messages.

Do you think Merlin is doing a good job?

If you love our work, then tell the world! You have an exciting opportunity to help Merlin (Medical Emergency Relief International) make even more of a difference. GreatNonprofits - a site like Amazon Book Reviews or TripAdvisor - is a website where people can share their stories about nonprofits that they really believe in.

Will you help us raise awareness and support for our life saving work, by posting a review of about Merlin? All reviews will be visible to potential donors. It's easy and only takes a few minutes.

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With your help, we can gain visibility and ultimately funds for our health care work around the world.

Merlin can offer health services to women, children and families in Kenya, because of you.  Thank you.

Community Health Worker malaria training, Kisii
Community Health Worker malaria training, Kisii
A Turkana mother clutches her health report card
A Turkana mother clutches her health report card
Psychosocial training of local health staff, Kisii
Psychosocial training of local health staff, Kisii
Mother, Rosslyn and her baby girl, Edina Atoot
Mother, Rosslyn and her baby girl, Edina Atoot

Safe Motherhood is part of our health activities in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.  Merlin offer effective health care and nutrition support to make sure that women are kept safe through their pregnancies and first years as new mothers.

The health care includes educating not just the women, but the whole community on things such as; why women should attend ante-natal classes, why rest and nutrition is something every pregnant women should have and why the correct vaccinations will protect her and the community’s new born children against preventable diseases.

Sadly, in these three countries 1 in every 12 (Kenya), 1 in every 10 (Ethiopia) and 1 in every 5 (Somalia) children die, before they reach their fifth birthday.  Teaching moms about how to keep themselves and their babies healthy and protected from disease is, and will continue to make a positive change to those stats.

Safe Motherhood in Kenya

- The Safe Motherhood project part of the fuller health care package that Merlin is offering to communities. Currently, all objectives are on target, and the number of baby being delivered with a qualified nurse in attendance, has increased.

- ‘Malezi Bora’ (a national mother and child health awareness campaign) is running over the first two weeks of May.  Merlin teams have planned activities to coincide with the rise in awareness as a result of the campaign, including a push to immunise even more children and women of child bearing age.

Mother’s Day is nearly here

Is there a special person that you want to give a unique gift to this Mother’s Day?  What about giving a gift towards Merlin’s safe motherhood work in their honor?  Click on this link to give a gift.

Plus GlobalGiving will give Merlin an additional $500 for this project, if we are one of the top 10 projects with the most donors who give gifts. 

Global Giving will send an email with a personalised message to your special person.  They will know that because you care, another special person can care for her child too.

 Thank you


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Organization Information

Merlin USA

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Merlin USA
Project Leader:
Andrey Taveira Da Silva
Washington, DC Afghanistan

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