Improving Child Maternal Health in Kenya
Meet Britt! A nurse who brings her passion for mothers and babies to Kenya!
Our MedTreks program constantly seeks to bring dedicated health professionals to Kenya to help improve education and build capacity in the healthcare arena. This month we are highlighting a true gem of a human being: a dedicated doula, a nurse and now midwifery student, in her short time off from the intensive masters program at University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Britt Urban made the trek to Kenya to join our MedTreks team to share her love and passion for mothers and babies.
In August 2019, our MedTreks team had the pleasure of having Britt Urban join us for the medical trip. Currently in school at USCF to obtain her Master’s in Nursing and Midwifery, Britt is a dedicated doula who started her own Doula Collective in the Bay Area of California and she is just about the most positive and loving spirit you will ever meet! It was such a joy to have her on our team!
Britt shares her experience with MedTreks & HopeCore:
If I had to choose a select few words to describe this experience in Kenya, I would say it was humbling, inspiring, exhausting and important.
We started the journey at a global health conference in Nairobi to learn about Kenya’s health systems, culture, global health in general, and the impacts of humanitarian health work in Kenya. The lectures we received were amazing! With this being my first medical volunteer work, the knowledge I gained from this conference made me feel prepared to support the communities we were going into.
After the conference days in Nairobi, we all crammed into the Kenyan minibus, called a Matatu, and made the harrowing 3-hour drive into the mountains to our home base in the Chogoria region at the base of Mt. Kenya. The village of Chogoria has one main street that is about a quarter-mile long with shops, fruit and veg stands, 1 gas station, 1 hotel, 1 hospital, and the Village HopeCore clinic. It is by far the most urban area in the region.
From that point on we hit the ground running every morning from 7 am, often not getting back until evening. We paired up with Village HopeCore nurses and went out to mobile clinics every day. Often, this was driving 45 mins – 1.5 hours in an off-road Landcruiser to get to a school where we could set up the clinic for the day. Each day when we would arrive, there would already be a line of people waiting to be seen. Some of them had to walk for HOURS to get there because this is the ONLY access to healthcare that they have.
All of the clinics that HopeCore holds are child and maternal health clinics. Each one started with education, from breastfeeding to nutrition to hand sanitation and more. After the lecture, each family would be seen by a nurse. We had a table of all the common medications needed. It was MIND BLOWING how much the Kenyan nurses do! There are no computers. Each diagnosis, treatment, the med calculation is all in their heads! It was so inspiring and motivating for the type of care provider that I want to be!
Britt and Jesca Gakii (right) working together to track height, weight and medication dosing using a smartphone. Every Community Health Worker or Nurse at Village HopeCore utilizes a smartphone to keep track of all the pertinent health data for every child in the clinics including growth, immunization status, and health history.
There are no official electronic medical records in Kenya. Hope Core has invented a tracking app for children’s growth on the smartphone, but overall there is no way for providers to keep track of full health records digitally. Each person in Kenya has a little booklet that the government gives them to bring to any healthcare appointment where the nurse writes what their diagnosis was and the treatment they received. That is the only record they have. The amazing thing is that EVERY person, at every clinic site, brought their booklet. These were often wrapped in some sort of protective cloth and truly valued. They would walk hours to get to the one pop up clinic in their region that month, carrying this booklet and so happy when they got there. It was so humbling to see the effort that these villagers go through to get healthcare. They value their health and it is absolutely something that is not taken for granted. They know how important it is and yet they have such little access. It truly made it a joy to get up at dawn and work tirelessly to give these Kenyan villagers the healthcare they needed.
Britt has returned back to her hometown in Berkely California and is continuing her studies and passion in Midwifery. She runs her own Doula Collective and continues to dedicate her time to mothers and babies in marginalized settings. We are proud to have Britt as a part of our MedTreks team and she continues to work for our program as a remote Global Health Intern. She has been actively working with our MedTreks team to provide a Kenyan nursing scholarship program this fall.
If you would like to support our program in Kenya, please click HERE
Thank you to Britt, our MedTreks teams and all of our supporters who help us build healthcare capacity in Kenya!