Thursday, May 03, 2007

An update from Kenya

Another email from my friend Honora, a young American doctor in service in Kenya. I think you can sense how drained she was when she wrote this.

Hi All,

I am doing well. I feel so good to be here and seeing this part of the world. I can feel myself learning and growing. Today was actually the hardest day yet. The wards are very intense, and this afternoon I felt overwhelmed by it all. The patients are incredibly sick, and they are poor and dirty and there are often at least 2 patients to the same twin bed, with about 10 beds per bay, and a total of 3 bays that I am caring for. I feel very lucky, as my team is really good. The resident is bright and takes initiative, and one of the interns is really great.

It is hard; my sense is that the doctors feel downtrodden, in part because they are lacking so many resources. I gave a talk to the 4th yr students about management of heart disease, and found myself teaching them about treatment "for the future, when they have the technology and resources" but doubting whether it matters at all. Even the simplest of treatments are often not available. Yet they get tested in the British system and have to know the latest treatment recommendations... It is definitely far from empowering for them.

That being said, there is a sense of hope in the country, and I see the worst of it, as those who end up in the hospital have by far the most advanced disease.

I have a Swahili lesson in a bit, so I'll sign off.

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