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The cry of ‘Tharaka Mbeere’ Muthanthara villagers

The cry of ‘Tharaka Mbeere’ Muthanthara villagers
September 28, 2020 Eastern Newspaper

By Mugendi Kangichu

Muthanthara is a sleepy village in Mbeere North Sub-County and located at the farthest end of Embu County bordering Tharaka-Nithi County.

Judging from the silence, one may think villagers are satisfied and are beneficiaries of all the best services offered by the government and non-governmental organizations.

But this silence covers a lot of pain and misery which was revealed during an interaction with resident. Our afternoon visit to the village is welcomed by activities that are not only inhumane but also shocking.

We find a group of middle-aged men squatting by a thorny bush, interweaving sticks. At first, it looked fun but later it turned out that they were on a serious mission—making stretchers for carrying a pregnant woman who had to be rushed to the nearest hospital-20 kilometers away.

“We work as a team when we know a woman within the village is experiencing labor pains. We quickly improvise stretchers, locally called Matarati which we use to ferry her to Ishiara Level 4 hospital. We have a specific species of shrubs used to make strong stretchers,” Charles Musumbi told the Eastern Newspaper.

He says those tasked with making Itarati do it with a lot of care putting into consideration the height and weight of the pregnant woman, to guarantee her safety on the way to the hospital.

However, Agnes Kabea, a mother who has on several occasions been ferried to the hospital using Itarati reveals that although the method of carrying pregnant women is risky, there is no option.

She says motorcycles are the only mode of transport but it’s not conducive for pregnant women due to poor conditions of the road networks that render them impassable.

Locals claimed they are neglected in terms of an access road and other development because they are geographically located in Embu County but speak the Tharaka language.

“Our lives are an unending nightmare. Some women who have the misfortune have given birth on the way and died. Infants too have died on their way to the hospital. At times, because the women are in pain and move a lot, the stretchers break, leading to serious injuries or even death,” Kabea regrets.

Mary Kawira, who has also been carried severally on the improvised bed, says Muthanthara Dispensary which is located within the area is of no help to the locals.

She notes that the dispensary has only two nursing officers who work from 8 am to 5 pm. Word has it that many are times when you can only find condoms and panadol at the facility forcing locals to seek medical care even for simple ailments afar.

“When I started experiencing labor pains for my third born, I was taken at Muthanthara dispensary for first aid. Unfortunately, nothing was done for me. I was taken to Ishiara. By the time we arrived the child had started to come out,” Kawira revealed.

Joseph Nyamu, the Muthanthara Dispensary Board Chairman, agreed that the facility lacks services and medications of simple ailments most of the time.

“We have a major problem here in Muthanthara. Our people cannot get health services since the facility lacks medications most of the time. During medicine distribution from the county, we mostly get panadol and others which I can’t mention due to embarrassment,” he said.

Nyamu says in the late 1990’s plans were made to construct a maternity wing at the dispensary, something that has never happened to date. He says locals do not understand why the ward has not been constructed two decades later.

They pleaded with the government and their political representatives to fulfill their pledges to improve public amenities they need as taxpayers.

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