Written by Deepika Parmar, MD, PGY-2 at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Pediatrics Program while on Global Health…
Posted by Lisa Ryujin, MD (a second year Ob/Gyn resident from Kaiser Permanente Oakland serving a global health elective at The Matibabu Foundation in Ugenya, Kenya).
Two weeks have passed in Ukwala. It has been a wonderful and eye-opening experience. I have traveled to Ukwala, which I thought was rural, until i went to the villages. I went to Ambira, a sub-district hospital, where there is one bulb suction and no baby warmers for neonatal transfers, and I went to Siaya, where there is the only operating room working for the region. Mothers have to travel 2-3 hours to get to the health centers in order to be evaluated in cases of emergency, they come by bike (a chair is tied to the back of the seat and the biker will try to brave the mud, since it is rainy season) if they are lucky, they will get a motorcycle, which is also troublesome traveling in the dark. Once they are assessed at the health center and an emergency situation is identified, they can be transferred to Siaya, but only by ambulance, and the ambulance ride can cost 1000 Ksh, the equivalent of half a household income for a month, if they make any money at all.
I had the great opportunity to meet with Sarah Obama (Barack Obama’s grandmother) who really advocates for woman and child health. She really supports our programs and how we are trying to make health care more accessable from the rural, but the situation can look grim at times. But I am hopeful, with the wonderful Matibabu dedicated staff and warm health workers, they are making change, one patient at a time.