Team Naweza arrived in Kenya on October 2 but we've had trouble connecting with wifi. First stop, Lewa Downs, one of our two sister clinics in western Kenya. This is our fifth medical trip to Kenya and we’ve got an incredible list of health professionals with us. The team consists of: Dr. Michael Hawkes to focus on pediatrics; Dr. James Aw, chief medical officer at Medcan who will lead chronic disease projects; Optometrist Dr. Sidiqa Rajani to lead eye health efforts; Gynecologist Dr. Sue Wong to focus on women's health and obstetrics; Registered Dietitian Alex Friel to focus on nutrition projects; and myself, as the team lead to make sure we make the most of our days here.
To bring you up to date since our trip last April, Lewa recently had theft issues within its clinic pharmacy and were forced to let go of its entire clinical staff. Devastating for us to say the very least as our program is centered around medical training, education, and capacity building. With the former staff, so went all our training. However, we have a partnership with Lewa, and as a true partner, we experience the highs and the lows of any new project. We decided that as long as we had confidence in the new staff, we would continue the relationship. This past July, I brought a group of doctors here to assess whether we should proceed. I’m happy to say, after that visit we felt very optimistic that the new employees were going to be good partners. They were motivated and receptive to all that we had to share and we felt hopeful that a long relationship was likely achievable. So … fast forward 3 months … and here we are. Ready to begin our fifth mission with a fantastic group of Canadian doctors who are ready to continue the work of providing training and expertise to this special clinic at Lewa Downs.
- Continue developing the chronic disease program, our main focus of this initiative.
- Provide training on pediatric issues, namely neonatal resuscitation and pneumonia.
- Cervical cancer screening and training on first level of treatment.
- Training on visual acuity including usage of an auto-refractor, which we’ve donated to the clinic. This equipment enables the optometrist to measure eyeglass prescriptions.
- Provide nutritional counselling training as it pertains to chronic disease, maternal health and malnutrition in children.
After travelling from Nairobi and having lunch at our lodge, we went to the clinic to meet the staff. Even on a Saturday, 10 employees were present with all hands were on deck. We reviewed the itinerary for the week, heard their feedback and have come to a mutually agreed upon final draft of the week. All of course with the caveat that we are most willing to change and amend the schedule at any point if they feel they need more of “this” or less of “that”. We are only here for 4 full days. Our time is limited and we want to make sure we’re using it in a way that best provides training and strategies that will best enable them to operate at a higher level when we are not here. That’s the goal.
We ended the afternoon session with a talk by Alex, our registered dietitian, who explained how she would support the doctors throughout the week with nutrition strategies for prevention and treatment of disease and other conditions. They were quite engaged and full of questions as they thought of their patients and how nutrition could play a valuable role in the treatment strategies they were using.
While heading back to the lodge, our driver was kind enough to do a mini game drive. For whatever reason the elephants and giraffes were no where to be seen. However (!), we saw two rhinos in two different locations. One with its baby! Rare to say the least. A real treat and a great way to end our first day.
Thanks for reading!