Mandera health centres treat thousands of patients from Ethiopia and Somalia.
The patients cite lack of specialised health services at home.
They say basic infrastructure, including health, was ruined by war decades ago and is yet to be rebuilt.
While signing a cooperation agreement with representatives of the two countries yesterday, Mandera Governor Ali Roba said that last year alone, 20 Mandera health centres treated over 474,000 Ethiopian and Somali patients.
The sick mainly come from the towns of Bula Hawa in Somalia and Suftu in Ethiopia.
There were eight foreign patients at Mandera County Referral Hospital yesterday.
Mohamed Abdi 60, a diabetic from Bula Hawa had come for drugs. He said the referral hospital is the only where he had been treated over the years. Members of his family are also treated at the facility.
“If there is one thing I thank the Kenyan government and Mandera county for is their willingness through their health officials to serve us without looking at our nationalities,” Mohamed said through a translator.
Mandera town is at the border of Somalia and Ethiopia.
Mariam Dekhow from Ethiopia had come for an operation on her left leg. She said there were no good health facilities at home.
Health Executive Mohamed Edda said county health facilities often overwhelmed by the number of patients, especially outsiders.
The county is building a Sh300 million Kenya Medical Training College, Mandera campus. Somalia has said it will sponsor 200 students to study there.
Some Sh200 million has been allocated to the first phase of the college, which will be built on 100 acres.
Roba has appealed for financial support from the national government, the neighbouring countries and donors “as Mandera alone can only do so much”.
Recently, Mandera has had an increase of diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever and measles, which offficials attribute to the county’s proximity to Ethiopia and Somalia.
Two people died and 300 others were infected with measles late last year.
Roba said the KMTC will be “a game changer”.
Mandera town is the largest urban centre in a radius of 500kms.
The governor stressed the need for a regional centre for disease surveillance and control for both man and livestock in the achievement of sustainable development.