By Chrispinus Omar
KWALE (Xinhua) -- The dedicated army
of health personnel deployed to the Magaoni health center deep
in Kenyan rural coastal village near the Indian Ocean, returns
regularly to knock on the door of Bakari Ali Kikoi, a young
clinical officer, who minds the health of the residents of the
In the past few months, Kikoi, who handles
clinical cases as the first point of call for pregnant mothers,
recalls dealing with a particularly high number of teenage
The pregnant teenagers were mostly from schools in the
mineral-rich Magaoni ward in Msambweni, Kwale County, about
660km outside Nairobi, where an Australian-owned firm Base
Titanium has been mining titanium, a mineral used in the
manufacture of plastic paint, ceramics and building materials.
"We have had to double our investment in the local community.
"We initially had a dispensary but we upgraded it to a health
center in order to provide more enhanced services to the
community," said Mwanaharusi Khamisi, community development
officer at Base Titanium.
Since its completion in 2014 and the eventual handover to the
Kwale County Government because healthcare is a function of the
lower-rung of the government, Magaoni has become an important
port of call for the community’s healthcare needs.
Every morning, community health workers walk into Kikoi’s
room at the center to bring reports.
These include cases of children suffering from acute malaria
infections, and their mothers’ first intervention for such cases
is usually to dash to a traditional healer.
"The community health workers have helped us to create
awareness within the community.
"They have helped in malaria interventions. Community
sensitization has helped mothers know children suffering from
severe convulsions require urgent medical attention.
"Before, mothers used to seek the services of a traditional
healer but now, they come here for treatment," Kikoi said.
The army of community healthcare workers, identified by their
jungle-green T-shirts, trained by Base Titanium and deployed to
some 45 other facilities in the region, have been more
successful in their daily community interventions.
Their work has been central to family cohesion in the
In recent months, they brought to the attention of the
clinical officers, a dispute over family planning injections.
One particular case which arose at the facility was a nasty
fight between a married couple, after a birth control
Kikoi said a child treated at the facility narrated back home
how both mother and child were injected during a routine visit
to seek malaria treatment.
This raised the father’s curiosity.
The father confronted the medics on the reason for the
mother’s injection and was mad at the mother for seeking family
planning injections at the facility.
"This center has helped the community which previously had
very high levels of illiteracy which manifested itself in the
high number of people seeking the intervention of traditional
healers. We also have a high number of HIV/AIDS cases which we
are handling," Kikoi said.
Located close to Ukunda, a resort town popular with European
tourists, Magaoni and the neighboring villages have witnessed
one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies.
A local primary school reported nine cases of teenage
pregnancies in 2018, which required an increase in the number of
community workers to intervene.
In order to convince men to work with women on birth control,
Kikoi allows pregnant women entering the delivery room to be
accompanied by their spouses for family support.
"We think it helps our course when men witness firsthand the
difficulties women face during child-birth because we believe it
would help them appreciate the challenges," Kikoi said.
He said the community healthcare personnel have helped to
broaden access to healthcare.
The medical staff and community healthcare workers meet
regularly to discuss interventions.
Built at a cost of 28 million shillings, (about 280,000 U.S.
dollars), the facility was financed via Base Titanium’s
corporate social responsibility budget, and aims to grow and
eventually create an in-patient unit.
Mwanaharusi said plans for the in-patient unit remains one of
the company’s long-term objectives as it prepares to end its
mining operation at the mine site close to Magaoni in Msambweni