Health Care System in Action

Posted: July 16, 2012

Submitted by Jackie Murphy, Boston University graduate Public Health program, Kenya Summer I

On Saturday in early June, disorganized games of pickup soccer, finger puppets and sing-alongs filled the neighborhood school yard. Instead of the typical young students, however, this time SFS students could be found playing with children of all ages, who had come to the mobile clinic run by Oloitokitok District Hospital.

After many consecutive days working hard in the classroom, we got the chance to interact with the community we all came here to get to know and help. Our whole group really came together as a team to help the clinic’s doctors and nurses work smoothly. Those students who were not busy entertaining waiting patients took turns registering patients, measuring vital signs, weighing children and adults, distributing preventive medicines, offering nutrition information, and assisting in the clinic’s pharmacy.

It was eye-opening to see the health care system that we had been studying in action. The real world challenges of convincing people to come to the clinic instead of the nearby market and keeping crying children still while measuring their Mean Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) came to light. The Community Health Workers and nurses did an excellent job keeping patients engaged, and educating both students and patients about challenges of improving health outcomes, like decreasing incidence of malaria and waterborne disease, in the community. This day at the clinic certainly made us more mindful and compassionate researchers over the next several weeks.