Further evidence of need – the Guardian’s Katine Project

Katine Mother and child
Image credit: Katine Project, Guardian Newspapers

Following the ColaLife presentation at last week’s Africa Gathering, we have been asked to provide an article to feature on the website that supports the Katine Project. This meant that Jane, who volunteered to write the article, had to do a bit of research into Katine.

Anyway, here are some selected quotes from the first evaluation of the project. Note that lack of availability of simple drugs is a key issue:

The huge issue of access to drug supplies was consistently identified as the main barrier to the successful implementation of health programmes in Katine. Lack of anti-malarials and other basic medication meant Amref health staff could not distribute drug storage kits to VHTs. Health centre staff labelled lack of drugs stocks a “chronic problem” and said that a lack of transport, doctors, equipment and power was also causing serious challenges.

At Ojom health centre, Richard Okello, the district nurse, outlines the most common health problems he has to deal with in Katine.

The biggest problem we face on a day to day level is malaria,” says Okello, who describes the disease as “rampant” in Katine. “The problem is that because of the problems with drugs supply, we usually don’t have enough or any malaria medicine to give people.

Currently the Ojom clinic doesn’t have any first-line malaria drugs left in stock.

“The problem is a lot of our patents are very poor so they can’t afford to go straight on to second-line treatment,” he says. “As a nurse you sympathise and feel really bad for them and just pray that the patient will be helped by a drug delivery but it doesn’t always happen.”

“The problem is that people are so worried about health they expect we can come in and provide solutions to everything and we simply don’t have the resources to do that,” he says. “There is such a huge need for improved health services, for a better drug supply chain, for more and better equipped clinics, but there is a limit to what we can realistically achieve.”

Preventable diseases cause 75% of premature deaths.. diarrhoea amongst most common problems.. one in five children in Katine are moderately or severely underweight.