Even as Coivid19 cases are expected to surge following lifting of travel ban from the corona Virus hotspot areas, a cross section of the elderly population in Kisii County is now seeking alternative treatment for their underlying conditions.
Ministry of health has declared the elderly persons as the most vulnerable to the disease, a matter which has been compounded by the underlying health conditions of hypertension, diabetes and cancer among others.
For the elderly population in Kisii totaling about 65,000, life has not been the same again as they have been forced to make drastic changes to stay physically fit during the pandemic which according to World Health Organization may stay for a long time.
Gladwel Ontuga, aged 70 says the pandemic has not only affected her psychologically but also financially as she is forced to pay more for transport to get treatment from various hospitals for Asthma, ulcers and general body aches.
Ontuga, who resides in Nyaura sub-location, Kisii central Sub County says transport doubled to sh.150 from her home to Ogembo in Gucha Sub county where she has also been attending physiotherapy sessions in a private health organization called Catch Power which deals with alternative treatment for the last three months.
This she says was meant to improve her physical fitness to prevent her dependency on others thus enabling her to keep social distancing, which is critical to preventing corona virus infection and spread.
She says she was forced to pay sh.10, 000 to the organization to get full benefit of all equipment at the facility so that she could improve her fitness faster.
According to Gucha Sub County Public Health Officer Michael Oyunge, it is a requirement all organizations to follow health protocols before they are allowed to operate.
Oyunge put on notice any one putting the vulnerable population including the elderly at risk of contracting Covid19 saying they will be prosecuted.
Catch Power National Director Japheth Mwendwa says the Ogembo Catch Power facility is one of the 26 centers that offer thermo massage therapy involving heat activated from 14 natural earth minerals that triggers body cells to be active.
Mwendwa says the elderly clientele has doubled to 150 patients a day causing the organization to close the free part of the services which attract majority of them.
Mwendwa says the clients are pre-booked to avoid influx while others are encouraged not to attend therapies frequently in the facility which opened in December last year.
He advises organizations including Catch Power to ensure screening was done using thermo gun, proper hand washing, sanitizing of equipment, and social distancing to avoid spread of the disease.
Winnie Moraa aged 67, says she was bed ridden for 21 years due to arthritis, High blood pressure, Diabetes and Goiter but has now improved after attending therapy sessions in the last six months.
She says she is forced to collect long duration medication for hypertension and diabetes from her health care provider to avoid frequent visits to hospital.
However when she is not able to attend her thermo therapy sessions due to lack of funds, her care takers who include her grandchildren help to massage her legs for purposes of social distancing as she works on her other parts of the body.
Benson Aura aged 70 from Bomachoge Chache Sub County is a retired army officer who hails the alternative treatment he is receiving from the Catch Power facility which is 30km away.
Increase in motorbike fare to sh.300 from sh.200, has made him reduce the frequency of visits because his children who were supporting him lost income after their businesses went down following the global pandemic.
Sameta Deputy County Commissioner Mary Kamau says the government through the chiefs, Nyumba Kumi and village elders was sensitizing the public on the government guidelines to control Covid19.
She says the uptake of masks and social distancing to protect the vulnerable groups was improved after sensitization was done through small groups like tea pickers, boda boda stages and market centers.
Kamau says after the recent lift of the ban on travel from hot spot areas, the chiefs had moved to sensitize the elderly from house to house at their homes, and to ensure health protocols were followed to protect them.
She appeals to the elderly group to continue seeking medical treatment in the health facilities to avoid complications that come with skipping medical treatment, and urges all organizations doing businesses in the county to follow government procedures for opening such ventures.
By Clinton Nyamumbo and Jane Naitore