Kenya Partners with US, NGOs to Provide Medical Care
Military medical providers from Kenya and the U.S. partnered with several non-governmental organizations to provide medical care to about 2,000 Kenyans during a Medical Civic Action Program August 24 - 31.
The eight-day MEDCAP was conducted in the villages of Mnazini and Assa in southeast Kenya. The villages lie in the rural Tana River district, which, like most of East Africa, is experiencing significant drought.
“This area has been hard hit by drought and famine,” said U.S. Army Major Gregg Tooley, 490th Functional Specialty Team projects officer. “The focus of most of the relief has been along the Somali border so this area was in dire need of assistance.”
These exercises are designed to support the U.S. Global Health Initiative, a program that seeks to improve the health and stability of U.S. partner nations such as Kenya. The program mandates a comprehensive approach to global health to promote partner nation ownership, collaboration and sustainability.
“In the spirit of GHI, the MEDCAP focuses on working with the partner nation and prominent regional non-governmental organizations to assist the people here,” said Tooley. “Their involvement is critical.”
In particular, GHI targets AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other health issues affecting women and children.
“Education in the areas of water sanitation and HIV are critical in these villages,” said Israel G. Komora, Mnazini Dispensary public health officer, who focused on malnourished children during the MEDCAP.
Kenyan and U.S. military medics banded together to man the MEDCAP team, which included physicians, nurses, physician’s assistants, a dental surgeon, a medic, a hospital administrator and an environmental specialist. The Kenyan Wildlife Service provided ten scouts to assist with crowd control and security.
The first step in seeing patients was intake, where patients were triaged and then sent to each of the medical stations: children’s health, maternal health, acute care, HIV testing, dispensary and finally health education classes.
Representatives from German Agro Action Kenya, International Medical Corps and the Kenyan Red Cross worked alongside the Kenyan and U.S. military members throughout the MEDCAP.
German Agro Action, an NGO specializing in rural development projects such as water and sanitary services, conducted educational classes on water sanitation, hygiene and AIDS awareness with the help of Kenyan Red Cross and U.S military personnel. Each participant was given adult or children’s multi-vitamins and medicated soap. The International Medical Corps and the Ngao District Hospital provided physicians to assist with immunizations and acute care treatment.
“The participation of our hosts with the Kenyan military and the participating NGOs were critical to the success of this MEDCAP,” said Tooley. “They provided a number of invaluable services to the event in the areas of women’s and children’s healthcare, HIV testing and preventative medicine.”
AIDS Population and Health Integrated Assistance, one of the larger U.S. Agency International Development programs in Kenya, provided HIV testing and health screenings for women and children. Trained mid-wives from the Ngao District Hospital performed health screenings for women, including breast and cervical examinations. Physicians from the International Medical Corps and Kenyan government vaccinated children and weighed them to determine if they were malnourished.
“The biggest problem (in the region) is malnutrition,” said Komora. “Most families only eat one meal per day. After food is the severe lack of clean water. Many of the wells have gone dry or are too salty to drink. Many use the river for water, but the water is unclean and causes many health problems such as dysentery, typhoid and other diseases.”
From vaccinations and exams, to education and supplies, the local villagers appreciated the outreach efforts of Kenyan and U.S. military members and their NGO counterparts.
“The people in this region are very poor,” said Jeremiah Mwakio, a Kenyan Red Cross volunteer. “Unfortunately, most of the resources and assistance in this area have moved north where the refugees are, so the medical assistance was greatly appreciated and very beneficial to the villages here.”