By Andrew Wasike and Magdalene Mukami
Thousands of people living in Kenya’s poorest county received free medical treatment Monday.
Around 21 Turkish doctors and nine Turkish medical school graduates teamed up with 13 local doctors to offer services such as pediatric surgery, gynecological treatment and dental care to the local community in Turkana as well as refugees at the Kakuma refugee camps.
The refugees are from all over sub-Saharan Africa, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Many walked for long distances in the 45 degree Celsius heat to wait for the life-saving surgeries being conducted at Kakuma Mission Hospital at the camps. Doctors told Anadolu Agency that some of the sophisticated surgeries normally cost between US$15,000 and US$20,000.
The hospitals were the surgeries took place were spread out across the county and included Kakuma Mission Hospital at the Kakuma 1, 2 and 3 camps as well as Kenya-based NGO the International Rescue Committee’s site.
Doctor Ahmet Cevik from Yeryuzu Doktorlari told Anadolu Agency that they had already performed more than 60 life-saving surgeries Monday at Kakuma Mission Hospital alone.
"Most of these people were in a very bad state, and I am happy being a doctor to be offering my services free of charge to these people, who really need this help being from the poorest county in Kenya with poor health services. We have changed lives here," he said.
During the seven-day surgical camp organized by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and Turkish non-governmental organizations, patients are also being tested and diagnosed if they are suspected to be suffering from eye infections.
Ole Njakop a local living in Kakuma, told Anadolu Agency he phoned a friend from the neighboring county of Marsabit to come to receive treatment for a swollen leg due to a snake bite.
"It happened a day ago. They sucked the poison out, but the leg was swollen. He has arrived here and has been booked. I am grateful," he said.
Nasieku Senkule, 39, one of
Doctor Kamil Toker for his part commented that the health week is aimed at ensuring refugees and locals have access to important medical services that are not easily available and accessible in Turkana County.
He said that due to limited funding for refugees and limited resources for the local community, the health week will also ensure that more displaced individuals and locals have access to health services within a short period of time.
Turkish Ambassador to Kenya Ahmet Cemil Miroglu also spoke to Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the event.
"We understand very well Turkana's position because Turkey hosts more than 3 million refugees, so our team of 30 doctors from Turkey is working to give treatment to both locals and refugees. We are happy to be here, and we wish a speedy recovery to all patients," he said.
There are approximately one million people living in Turkana -- around 186,000 refugees and 800,000 locals. But there are only two hospitals. TIKA says that in Turkana, people do not have access to affordable healthcare. It costs at least $500 for the surgeries that will be offered free of charge during the health week.