October 16 to October 23

Today’s blog post summarizes what have been working on for A Better World Canada – the reason why we are in Kenya.

An Overview of A Better World Canada’s Medical Teaching Project

October 2016

submitted by Glen Hutton

Introduction

The co-founders of A Better World Canada, Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt, view the organization as an investment company, not an aid agency.

“Instead of giving, we invest and expect a return in improved lives. We expect the community to invest in itself as well, asking for contributions of cash, labour, or local materials as they are able. Then we watch our collective investment grow into an independent, sustainable community.”

The primary goals of the ABW Medical Teaching team are to decrease the isolation and to increase access to area appropriate medical resources for rural Kenyan Health Professionals (HPs).

The members of our team believe that, by choosing appropriate technology and resources, we can help the Kenyan HPs increase their patients’ health literacy and their own medical skills and, in doing so, significantly improve the health of their patients.  However, in keeping with the overall philosophy of ABW, each Kenyan HP must invest their own money to purchase a cell phone or tablet. The money the Kenyan HPs pay for their tablets is not the total cost but it is a significant amount of money. For example, this year individuals had to pay 7000 Kenyan shillings (the equivalent of $70 USD) for the tablet; the balance was subsidized by donor funds.

History of the ABW Medical Teaching Team’s Project

In year 1 of the project, six Kenyan health professionals were provided with medical resources using cell phone and computer technology.  This group formed our first cohort of health professionals (HPs) in Kenya. The Kenyan HPs received/purchased a cell phone loaded a library of medical apps and resources, an e-mail forum was set up to allow them to share experiences and seeking help with diagnoses, opportunities for online education, and a connection with North American mentors.

In year 2, the project was expanded to 24 Kenyan health professionals. Instead of cell phones, the ABW team brought over 7 inch tablets. These tablets were loaded with area appropriate medical apps and medical resources for both the health care professionals as well as for their patients (patient education videos). Once again the Kenyan HPs had to pay a certain amount for their tablet.

This year (year 3), we had 47 participants in our cohort. We loaded their tablets with several new medical and multimedia apps as well as additional text and video resources.

Ongoing Communication with members of the Kenyan cohort using Whatsapp

All team members are set up in a chat room on Whatsapp.  This app was selected because it is already widely used by the Kenyans and (unlike Facebook) it alleviates concerns with patient confidentiality (only those who are invited can view the postings).  The intention of the chat room is to give the HPs in Kenya the opportunity to discuss with each other cases that they are seeing.  Through the chat room, Dr. Wade is able to mentor the HPs conversations and direct their discussions.  Dr. Wade acts as a sounding board, and will help the HPs find answers to questions on the apps that have been provided.  Because of time delays, urgent care questions need to be handled immediately by the Health Professional on the ground.  However, chronic conditions or groups of similar cases can be discussed by the whole group over time.  In phase II of the project, we would like to involve a mentor at one of the local hospitals.

First Aid Kits

In addition to the teaching and the technology, the team brought backpacks filled with first aid supplies. Primarily, the backpack first aid kits have the equipment for medical officers and nurses who often end up delivering babies outside of the clinic (home births). Once again, the medical officers had to pay for a portion of these kits (they paid for the actual back packs and ABW donors provided the funds to purchase the supplies for the kits).

October 2016

The ABW Medical Teaching Team includes:

  • Barbara Wade – Team Leader and Project Coordinator

Our teachers from Canada:

  • Dr Len Wade, MD – Family Physician
  • Dr Paulette Comeau, MD – Family Physician, with a focus in Obstetrics
  • Dr Wayne Church, MD – Family Physician
  • Dr Bev Prieur, MD – Pediatric Neurologist
  • Bev Knutson Shaw, BEd, MET (Masters in Educational Technology)
  • Vicki Hutton, BEd, MEd (Psychology)

The support team includes:

  • Glen Hutton – IT support
  • Jim Harris – logistics
  • Janice Harris – finance
  • Jane Machacek – participant interviews and first aid kits

In October 2016, the ABW Medical Teaching Team offered courses for 3 group of students:

  1. New students 2. Returning students 3. Patient Education students

Two, 3-day courses were held at Mara Aardvark Lodge near the Oloolaimutia Gate (There are six gates into the Masai Mara reserve: Oloololo and Musiara in the north, Talek gate, Sekenani and Ololamutiek on the eastbound. Sand River Gate takes you into Tanzania on the western border of the Mara river.)

Dates

  • Sunday Oct 16, Mon Oct 17, and Tues Oct 18 – 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Repeated Thurs Oct 20, Fri Oct 21, and Sat Oct 22

Day 1

  • Trauma and introduction to the resources located on the tablets (Dr. Wade)

Day 2

  • am: Pediatric Exam skills/Peds Neurology (condensed) (Dr. Prieur)
  • pm: Breech Deliveries and Shoulder Dystocias: Management  (Drs. Comeau, Church)
  • pm: Case Presentations (groups combined) (Drs. Wade, Prieur, Comeau, Church

Day 3

  • Pediatrics IMCI Modules (Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses) (Drs. Wade, Prieur, Comeau, Church)
  • Dermatology Resources (Dr. Wade)
  • Video Presentations

Patient Education Video Production

(B. Knutson Shaw, V. Hutton)

In addition to working with medical officers and nurses, the Medical Teaching Team is also offering a 3-day course to people working in the health field, who deal with counselling and patient education.  We would like to teach these individuals to be able to create patient education videos for their own work, and at the direction of other members of their team (COs, nurses).  Over the 3 days they will create a public service video, and will present their videos to the whole group on the last day.

October 18 – Where in the World are they?

Hi family and friends

We are finally in a hotel with reasonably good Internet access AND we have some time to sit down and share what has gone on since we landed in Kenya nine days ago. We will sketch out some of the details of our trip so far and then fill in some of the blanks when we get another break.

Where have we been?

October 11

Our plane touched down in Nairobi about 9:40 pm local time. It took us about 90 minutes to clear customs, get our baggage, meet up with Eric and our drivers. We made it to our hotel (Ole Sereni) around 11:30pm. Had a group meeting, a bite to eat, and then headed to our rooms. Breakfast meeting at 7:30 the next morning.

 

October 12

Before leaving Nairobi, we had to buy supplies for first aid kits, get SIMM cards for phones, and picked up other supplies for the first leg of our trip . We left Nairobi about 1:00 pm and on the road to Nanyuki in central Kenya.

kenya_road_map

We arrived in the area around 5:30 pm and entered the Old Pejeta Game Conservancy. We did a short game drive on our way to the Sweetwaters Tented Camp and had some great luck seeing three white rhinos – male, female, and baby.

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White rhino with baby.

White rhino with baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweetwaters Tented Camp location sign.

Sweetwaters Tented Camp location sign.

 

A team meeting in the lounge, dinner, and then a 2 hour work party getting things organized for tomorrow’s teaching day in Nanyuki.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eric giving team instructions for the next few days.

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Barbara and Jane repacking tablets and supplies for next day trip to Segera Mission.

October 13

Today was our team’s first teaching day. Dr. Bev Prieur (a Paediatric Neurologist from Calgary) taught a group of doctors and nurses from the Nanyuki Hospital. Dr. Prieur’s topics included Paediatric Neurological History and Assessment, Epilepsy, and Headaches.

Dr. Prieur talking to doctors and nurses in Nanyuki.

Dr. Prieur talking to doctors and nurses in Nanyuki.

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Group photograph of participants at Dr. Prieur’s session in Nanyuki.

Dr. Wade did a session for the clinical officers and nurses at the Segera Mission. (More information on the actual teaching work to follow).

Dr. Len teaching a trauma course to clinical officers and nurses at the Segara Mission.

Dr. Len teaching a trauma course to clinical officers and nurses at the Segera Mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An evening game drive was followed by dinner and another work party. This time we were getting things packed up for the long drive to Nakuru and then onto the Maasai Mara.

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Vicki, Paulette, Jane, and Len working late into the night getting first aid kits packed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the game drive, we stopped by the Old Pejeta rhino holding area. This area is home to a blind rhino (Baraka) plus three highly prized rhinos. Baraka lost one eye in a fight with another rhino and then lost the sight in his other eye because of an infection. All are housed in this area for their protection from poachers.

Janice with Baraka

Janice with Baraka

Jane with Baraka

Jane with Baraka

 

October 14

We checked out of Sweetwaters and squeezed in a short game drive before heading out to our next stop – Nakuru. Our destination would be the Capital Hill Lodge. Even though it isn’t particularly far, it was a very long drive. Barbara, Len, Glen, Vicki, and Paulette stopped in downtown Nakuru to pick up more supplies (pharmaceuticals) for the first aid kits. Driving in Nakuru is not a lot of fun to say the least. It took stops at two pharmacies before the mission was accomplished.

Our van then headed to Kabarak University on the southern outskirts of Nakuru. We met with Dr. Bruce Dahlman who is a member of the Faculty of Medicine at this university. Dr. Dahlman and his team are working on a medical app that is designed specifically for physicians working in Kenya. It is tied directly to the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s Guidelines. We showed Dr. Dahlman the medical apps and resources that we have put on our tablets and discussed the possibility of working together in the future. We have downloaded Dr. Dahlman’s app and Dr. Wade and Dr. Comeau will be testing it to see if it is suited to the needs of the clinical officers and nurses that we are working with in the Mara region of Kenya.

Meanwhile, the others took the afternoon to do a boat safari on Lake Navishia about 20 km south of Nakuru. Both teams met at the Capital Hill Lodge around 7:30 pm. This hotel is situated on a hillside overlooking the city. The concrete block buildings are new and the rooms are large. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained. However, the rooms are not well equipped (have a kettle for boiling water but no cups or tea bags, etc.). The staff working in this hotel are young and looked petrified that we were there. We had to literally drag them out from the far corners of the restaurant to get them to serve us! It was pretty funny.

October 15

This was another long travel day. It wasn’t very far in terms of kilometres but it was a long drive in terms of Kenyan roads and traffic. We were headed from Nakuru to our hotel the Mara Sopa. The Mara Sopa sits on the edge of a hill overlooking the valley. The road to get there is a goat trail to say the least. Potholes, washouts, ruts that would swallow a VW bug. Maasai cows, sheep, and goats are everywhere – including the middle of the road. Before leaving, I tried to describe the roads where we were headed. She nodded politely but figured that I was exaggerating “again!” About 20 minutes on the last leg of the trip (the trip into the Maasai Mara) she yelled at me that she “will never doubt another thing that I say!” It was that bad!

Once we arrived, we got organized for the next day. Tomorrow will be another teaching day. This time we are headed for the Mara Aardvark Lodge (near Oloolaimutia Gate into the Maasai Mara National Reserve). This will be a new experience as you just never know what to expect when you go to a new “lodge!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 10, 2016 Here We Go Again!

The A Better World Canada Medical Teaching Team is heading for Kenya!

We will start adding more information as the day progresses. Right now, I am not looking forward to 24 hours either in airports or on airplanes. We have a 9 hour flight to Amsterdam, a 4 hour lay over, and another 9 hour flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi! Add in 3 hours waiting in YYC and – well, it will be a long day!

Time to finish packing!

November 22 – 23 From the Masai Mara to Amsterdam and then home

On The Road Home!

We are in for two very long days of travel to get back home. Although we had a great time and a wonderful experience, the homing pigeon in me tells me that it is time to head home. Here is a quick update:

Wake up: 6:00 am Saturday Nov 22 (8:00 pm Friday MST)

Depart Fig Tree on the Masai Mara at 8:00 – plan to do a “game drive leaving” as Martin called it.

Game drive around a new area of the Masai Mara near the gate that we will take to get on the road to Nairobi. More on the game drive in a minute! – but I will give you a bit of a teaser 🙂

Lion_22l

We leave the Game Reserve around 11:00 and get on the very rough and very, very dusty road to Narok. Remember that these vans do not have AC and it is about +25C outside the van and about +35 inside the van. We try to open the windows when we can but the constant vehicle traffic create huge clouds of dust that seep in every nook and cranny in these safari vans. It is a very desolate area with Masai villages scattered here and there, and cows/sheep feeding along the highway.

We get to Narok, and do some shopping for Len – he is looking for headlights for the 4 clinical officers that are involved in our pilot project. As it turns out, one clinic for sure does not have electricity and the medical officer there has to deliver babies in the middle of the night using only a flash light. At least, if he has a head lamp, he will be able to keep both his hands free while birthin’ these babies!

After having lunch in Narok, we head for the huge city of Nairobi. This road is very busy with many large trucks, old, over loaded work trucks, half tons with stock racks on them that are just full of live or nearly live sheep on them (Vicki and Barb called it a “Jenga Sheep Truck” — it was actually very disturbing to see 20 or 30 sheep piled in the back of a small pick up truck with no water, no food, and left in the +25 degree temperatures. After a while, we saw more dead sheep in these vehicles than we did live ones.

Anyway, we are getting closer to Nairobi but we have one last obstacle to over come – climbing from the bottom of the Rift Valley to the top of the escarpment surrounding it. This climb is roughly 6,000 vertical feet that you climb in about 10 km.

drive_22d

The road is steep, narrow (no shoulders), with sheep, goats, and cows feeding in the ditches, and there are few, if any, guard rails.All of these over-loaded/underpowered trucks belching cheap diesel fumes, coupled with all of the buses, motorcycles, and fancy Toyota Forerunners are piled together in a traffic jam that would make Deerfoot Trail on a Friday afternoon look like a walk in the park!

It takes up to 90 minutes to travel this 10 to 15 km stretch. Remember it is +25C outside, +35C inside and besides dust, we are now sucking up an incredible amount of diesel fumes and soot. However, there were some interesting sights, sounds, and smells! Here are some pictures:

Drive_22a

Drive_22b

drive_22c

We made it to Nairobi and had to meet up with another Voyage Afrique driver to hand over some supplies that are staying in Nairobi. We had to make a stop at a fancy souvenir shop to pick up some trinkets to bring home, Then we made a stop at a Nakumatt (something like Walmart) because Len couldn’t find the head lamps in Narok but we did find them in Nairobi. We also picked up a few pounds of Kenyan coffee – might was well buy it in a Nakumatt rather than the overpriced coffee they sell in the tourist shops. Then we had a quick bite to eat at a hotel near the airport, and finally, at 8:00 pm we get to the curb-side check-in at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

A personal note for my van mate Bob – you will never guess what we ran into when we stopped at the Nakumatt in Nairobi.

kfc1

Yup – you guessed it – a KFC. No one else will get the joke except those of us in Van 4!

 

 

kfc2

We arrive 2 hours before our flight which, to most, sounds crazy that I wouldn’t be here three hours early? But, they only let you through the security area 2 hours before flight time so no sense standing on the curb waiting.

The system in Nairobi is rather inefficient, There is only one security screening machine for this entire building. All passengers must have their baggage screen and go through a full security screen before we can even enter the building. Then, because we had such poor Internet access at the Fig Tree, we couldn’t do the boarding pass thing. Plus, Vicki and I are bringing a hockey bag of stuff back home for Len and Barbara who are extending their trip by spending a week or so in Spain. We stand in line to get our baggage weighed before we get to the gate. We go through a document scanning process, then to the kiosk to print out boarding passes, then take the baggage to the drop off counter, where it is weighed again, before we get our baggage tags. The next step is to go through Kenyan Passport Control – our finger prints have to match the ones they have on file, upstairs to wait for our “Gate to Open”. Once the gate is opened, travellers flood to this area like flies to a piece of elephant dung! The race isn’t so much to get through first but this is a 747-400 aircraft – over 300 people, and with waiting room inside the gate can only hold about 150 people. Another passport check, then through another security screening gate, and then scramble to find a seat. It takes an extra hour to load the plane – there is some technical problem plus there is only one ramp to get passengers onto the plane.

We find our seats and the lady sitting with the aisle seat is sicker than a dog – oh good – we get to spend the next 8 hours and 30 minutes sitting to this poor lady. However, I guess it isn’t any worse than sitting in the clinics in close proximity to all of the Kenyans we dealt with for the last two weeks.

It is now 8:48 in Amsterdam – we don’t leave for another few hours so I will post some great pictures of our last game drive and go back to fix us some of the other blogs.

Hope everyone has enjoyed following our 2nd “Once in a lifetime!” adventure – it looks like it will be a trilogy at least 🙂

Glen

November 21 – Game Drive Day

Well, we have come to the end of our 2nd African adventure. I feel we have had a better experience this time around as we knew what to expect and were able to contribute a bit more to A Better World’s overall program. The addition of the Mobile (cell phone) Health Project has, in our opinion, the potential to have a significant impact on health care in the remote areas of Kenya. I guess we will have to wait and see the effectiveness of this project over the next 12 months. It is safe to assume that if it is successful, we will be back to expand it to other clinics throughout the country.

Today was our last full day in Kenya. We started with a game drive at 6:30 am with our new friends from California (Dr. Karen and her husband Dennis). They live between LA and Palm Springs and we plan to meet them in February for dinner when we are in Palm Springs in February. It was a pretty quiet game drive – no big pussy cats but it was a nice way to end their trip.

After the first game drive, we return to the Fig Tree, had breakfast and started packing. Another game drive in the afternoon with a picnic lunch on the Masai Mara was pretty quiet as well. But I was really tired today and spent most of it just sitting in the back of the van enjoying the sites and left most of the picture taking in Vicki’s hands – I think I even had a nap while we were bouncing around. I don’t know why I was so tired but I guess after nearly a month of being on the go nearly every day, the stress of being much more involved in the clinics this year, the pressure of trying to get the cell phones ready for our pilot project all came to end and I just crashed!

Our game drive was cut short by the sudden arrival of a really big thunderstorm! We have had thunderstorms here just about every afternoon but they are small in size and are short lived. This one was different. Our driver told us we were leaving and leaving now! There were at least 2 places where we had to drive across dry river beds and that IF we didn’t get across before the rain, then we would be spending the night camped in the van on the Masai Mara. That thought wasn’t really appealing and we weren’t going to argue with Martin. We made it across the river beds before the run off started (when it rains here, most of the water runs off the land before it can be absorbed). However, by the time we got close to the Fig Tree, the road was turning into a muddy mess. The vans we are in are only 2 wheel drive and we ended up doing a lot of slipping and sliding around. Martin did get us back to the camp and all was well.

I went back to our tent for another nap. It was fun being in a dry tent during this massive thunderstorm but I soon fell asleep for a couple of hours.

After the ran stopped, Barbara talked Martin into another game drive. Vicki declined and I was still sleeping so the three of them headed out. Of course, when we weren’t with them, Barb and Len saw three male lions trying to get close enough to a wildebeest. It was a great show but the wildebeest got away and the three lions went back to what they do best – sleeping. This is the second game drive that I missed this week. The people on the first drive saw a large pride of lions and two cheetahs. This one Len and Barb saw the three male lions. I guess people are going to ask me stay in camp from now on!

With that being said, we had some wonderful game drives! I wonder how long the authorities are going to protect this game reserve? The Masai people continue to push large herds of cattle onto the reserve even though it is against the law. The rangers patrol the area and will fine the farmers but the farmers just turn around and do it again. The cows are pushing the native animals further and further south towards Tanzania. And, like Canada, there is simply not enough funding. There are too few rangers to protect this savannah.

Anyway, we headed back to the tent to do some last minute packing. Tomorrow (Saturday), we will do a game drive enroute as we wind our way back to Nairobi to catch our 10:40 pm flight to Amsterdam and the connecting flight to Calgary. I know we will be in the air for 16 or 17 hours but I need a calculator to figure out how many hours it will take to get us from the Fig Tree Camp on the Masai Mara back home to Vulcan. Oh well, will rest up when we get home.

Here are some final pictures of our trip – you could call it the day of the buzzards – or at least, the day of the scavengers!

glen

November 20 – A Better World Mobile Health Project

We were up early for a quick game drive with Karen, Dennis, Barbara, and Len. We wanted to be back by 8:00am to say goodbye to the rest of the team who were heading back to Canada or to places like Amsterdam or Spain. We have made many new friends but especially our van mates Christine, Bob, and Val. The five of us, along with our driver Martin, spent a lot of time together over the last 2 weeks. It was great to have such nice people to travel with and they certainly made those long and bumpy road trips most enjoyable.

vancrew

Bob reminded us of Cleo in so many ways. Bob’s jokes were as bad as the jokes Cleo tells. He has that same “off colour” sort of sense of humour that I just about split a gut laughing at. Vicki told the two of us, on many occasions, to just “shut-up” which of course just encouraged us to try harder. Bob is also like Cleo in that given any kind of problem and rudimentary tools, a solution is in the works instantly. Thanks Bob and remember “KFC”!

Vancrew2

After our goodbyes, it was time to get ready to meet two people who will be very involved in our A Better World – Mobile Health Project. The first gentleman’s name is John and he is in charge of the 9 medical clinics in Masai Mara province of Kenya. The second man’s name is Duncan. Duncan runs the clinic in Talek a village just outside of the Masai Mara National Game Reserve (which is the northern part of the Serengeti).

In a nutshell, the tele-health project is the brainchild of Barb, based on her observations that the clinical health officers work in very remote area where it is difficult to access information in a timely manner. Add to that the observation that the vast majority of Kenyans own cell phones, and an idea was born! Before leaving Canada, Barb and Glen bought five android cell phones and loaded them with various medical information programs, such as the MSF (Doctors Without Borders) app and the Burmese Border Guide, obviously very reputable and credible information sources. This was not as easy a process as first thought, but they persevered and a ton of information was installed on the phones. Once over here, we met with medical personnel to identify their greatest needs and to make sure that the phone project would help a dedicated group of professionals be even more proficient at their jobs. We then distributed the phones to five clinical health officers and the same programs were installed on two other devices for other clinical health officers. A workshop was provided for all personnel involved (we are calling them our 1G group – First Generation for all of you who are as good with computer acronyms as I am!). That was an amazing experience for us, as they “got it” instantly and immediately began saying things such as “This would be great for patient education in the waiting rooms.” and “We can ask each questions about difficult cases.” and … Their enthusiasm, gratitude and most importantly, their passion for their jobs and patients was extremely thrilling for us. There are many ways to extend this project, but we have to remember to walk slowly before we start galloping full-out.  So far, it has been very successful; now we just need to keep it up! (Vicki)

We ran the information sessions for John and Duncan on the 19th and with the four clinical officers on the 20th.

Here are some pictures of the 1G Group:

We managed to get in morning and evening game drives on both days. However, our morning game drive on the 20th was a bit more interesting than the others. We wanted to squeeze in the game drive before our training session with the four clinical officers. This meeting was supposed to start at 10:00 am. We wanted to be back to the Fig Tree by 8:30 so we could get cleaned up and get the meeting room set up for our session. However, at 8:30 we were still on the Masai Mara looking at a very pregnant cheetah and an old, male lion. We weren’t more than 5 metres from either of these big cats. We finally had to convince Barbara that it was time to head back to camp. However, we just started going back when we were flagged down by park officials. They wanted to see the paper work permitting the van onto the game reserve. There is a very pricey daily fee involved – in the range of $75 to $100 per person per day – and there was a very lengthy discussion between the boss ranger and our driver. We also had Juma with us which was a big help as he is a Masai from this region. There was a very animated discussion in Masai and/or Swahili which we really couldn’t understand but we had a pretty good idea that we were going to have to pay more money (the old shake-down). They couldn’t resolve the issue in the middle of the savannah so we had to drive back to what they refer to as the Talek Gate.

The problem was with a letter from a so-called official in one of the surrounding cities. The travel agent who looks after all of this for A Better World was told that we wouldn’t have to pay for the extra days as he had “free passes” for us. After a delay of more than an hour, many phone calls to Eric and the travel agent, and more animated discussions, we finally found out what we were dealing with. It turns out this official was not authorized to give us free passes so the guards here were right in detaining us. However, what the official was after was money directly from Eric at A Better World. He was likely going to pocket the money and not turn it over to the park itself. Needless to say, Eric is not happy and the police have been notified.

We hurried back to the Fig Tree, had breakfast, and set up the room. As it turned out, the four clinical officers were advised of our delay and showed up at 11:00 and we were good to go with our training session.

Here are some MORE pictures of the game drives.

November 19 – Segera and Talek Mobile Health Project

The morning started with a short game drive as we wanted to be back at the Fig Tree before 8:00 in order to say goodbye to most of our new friends and team mates. It was a real pleasure getting to know all of the folks on this year’s trip. This group of mostly strangers came together to pull off some amazing feats in what we would consider to be adverse conditions. Our thanks to all for making this trip a very memorable – if not exhausting – experience!

After the good byes, we met with John – the Head Medical Officer for this region. John is responsible for some 9 clinics in a vast geographic in and around the Masai Mara game reserve. It can take 4 or 5 hours to reach some of the clinics in this area. We wanted to find out more about the availability of cell phone technology in this area as well as what his priorities are in terms of the health needs of the people living in this area. For example, pre- and post-natal care of mom and baby was on the top of his list. The very high incidence of asthma in the Masai population was another (Masai women cook on an open flame inside a dung hut that doesn’t have any ventilation what so ever – everyone in the hut breaths in smoke-filled air for lengthy periods of time). Malaria was a third one. Plus, he talked about educating the people to reduce the high incidence of dysentery and the importance of vaccinations, to name only two.

We talked about our pilot project in some detail. We came to Kenya with 5 pre-loaded smart phones and an android tablet. We included 5 apps plus a number of digital medical reference books, teaching videos, and videos for the medical officers themselves. The goal of the project is to provide resources that they medical officers can use in the field when they do not have Internet access. These apps can be used to help the medical officers assess their patients, arrive at a diagnosis, and provide them with a list of treatments/medications that they can use. All of the resources are designed to be used in a rural setting and most are written specifically for Africa. We have included an external SD Card and thumb-drive with the teaching resources for patients as well as the physician resources.

John gave us the go ahead to proceed with the project and he told us he would send 4 local medical officers to meet with us tomorrow for a full day of training.

We did a game drive but the mosquitoes are getting bad tonight. I am working in the restaurant which is an open-area – the WiFi only works in the restaurant or the bar. As usual, I am attracting more than my share of mosquitoes and, although I am taking Malarone, I am not crazy about being sucked dry by these pesky bugs. I must say, however, that the number of mosquitoes are far fewer than we get at home in the spring – it is just that this little buggers could be carrying malaria and I don’t really want to deal with it.

No pictures tonight! Will try again during the heat of the day tomorrow.