By Joel Musee, Frist Global Health Leader
A Kenyan nurse anesthetist asked me what it was like to work at Kijabe. After my first week here, I thought, it’s just like being at Vanderbilt, but with less resources and all African patients. The care provided at AIC Kijabe is likely the best in rural Kenya and likely the best care you can receive outside of Nairobi.
As a native Kenyan, this is my first encounter with medicine in Kenya as a doctor.
I was particularly lucky to take care of an 89-year-old man from the Kamba (I too am Kamba, one of more than 40 ethnic groups in Kenya) who had metastatic prostate cancer and was coming in for a surgical castration to prevent further progression of his cancer. He had poor understanding of his disease and my attempts to speak to him about what was about to happen was hampered by particularly poor communication in Swahili on both our parts. I began speaking to him in Kamba and we immediately struck up a rapport and I was able to explain everything that was happening to him, and what we were going to do for him.
The encounter was bitter sweet; this gentleman was quite healthy, except for cancer that was discovered in an advanced state. The lack of primary care is especially notable in low/middle income countries and diseases that are discovered much earlier in their course in the western world are usually discovered too late here.
Access to quality medical care is a global issue that is especially salient in low/middle income countries. Poverty exacerbates the problem. Solving these issues will take more than one native son giving back to his home country; once we realize that no man is an island, we will be well on our way to solving the problems plaguing the vulnerable and the ill amongst us.