Karibuni tena! Welcome back!
I am Marietta, medical student from the University of Cologne, Germany, and I had the opportunity to take part in a Public Health Exchange via Unified for Health in Nairobi, Kenya.
The exchange included the possibility to participate in a project of Access Afya.
Short information about Access Afya
In 2012 Access Afya was founded by Melissa Menke to ensure primary care which is patient centred, outcomes oriented, digitally driven and accessible for even the poorest of the population.
The different clinics of Access Afya are located within Nairobi‘s slum communities and are open 12 hours a day. The team working in those clinics consists of Kenyan clinical officers, lab technicians and clinic assistants from the neighborhood. They offer immunization, consultations, lab testing, diagnosis, family planning, management of chronic conditions and first aid.
For further information: www.accessafya.com
Getting in touch
After my arrival in Nairobi I supported to start a collaboration between Access Afya and Unified for Health. I met the CEO Melissa Menke and the Managing Director Dr. Daphne Ngunjiri to clear up in which area a liaison would be possible. We agreed that supporting the work at a microclinic in Kiambiu, Nairobi would be a good start. As Tuesdays and Fridays were the days on which children’s vaccination and nutrition are held, we decided that we could join in Kiambiu once a week on one of those days.
The first day I tried to get to the microclinic in Kiambiu by car – not a good idea. The Uber driver was totally overstrained with finding the proper way and the traffic was horrible, so better take a Boda Boda (motorbike) or if you want to save money, go by matatu (minibuses in Nairobi).
Mostly it had been easier to be dropped off on the other side of Nairobi river – a small stream overflowing with plastic waste – and walk the rest of the way over a tiny bridge to reach your destination. By day I felt totally safe to walk around in the surrounding. But for sure, the clinics are established in areas with informal settlements, which are overpopulated and with unsanitary living conditions. Furthermore in all those areas there is a poor offer of medical support systems. That’s what makes the work of Access Afya so very important.
But nevertheless people are very friendly and especially the children are happy, sometimes even a bit surprised to see a mzungu walking by (word for white guy in Swahili – for sure the word you‘ll hear the most in Nairobi).
It can be quite fascinating to just stand outside on the stairs of the clinic observing the surroundings – there‘s a lot to see.
Working at the Microclinic in Kiambiu, Kenya
After a very warm welcome of the staff I was shown the facility with a small laboratory, an examination room for children, a room for small medical procedures and a general examination room.
My task was to measure the height and the weight of the children who were between 1-18 month and to vaccinate the appropriate vaccine according to their age. Therefore it was very helpful to have the vaccination schedule in mind but the nurse on duty helped whenever there was any question or insecurity.
The vaccines were stored in a cooling box so that you always had to choose the right one to draw it up into a syringe.
After desinfection at the correct location you are to inject the vaccine in the proper way – subcutaneous, intramuscular or oral.
Be prepared to make the baby cry – to comfort it you may say „pole“ or „sorry mtoto“ which is for sure not always helping, but always keep in mind – you‘re doing something good.
Besides vaccination, I was also involved in handing out deworming tablets and vitamin A to children. Moreover it was also possible to take part in small medical procedures like stitching a head wound or explanting a hormonstick for family planning and to consultation on any medical question.
As an insight in a working day at a Microclinic of Access Afya, take a look at the following video – it is a different branch but established by Access Afya with the same concept:
All in all I really learnt a lot while working with the patients and got some new skills by doing practical work while beeing supervised.
And as far as I am concerned, the opportunity to take part at that project was a huge enrichment – it showed me how important the availability of medical care is, especially for those who do not belong to the upper class. Medicine should be tailored to the patients’ needs and possibilities and not be focused on doing the best business – and that’s exactly what they are doing.
I do appreciate having had the opportunity to take an insight on the work of Access Afya – thank you.