Healthcare Challenges in Kuria, Kenya
I’m drinking a Coke, she’s getting an HIV test.
Let me back up. Kuria has one health care facility – the poorly equipped and understaffed Nymetaburo Health Center. The center lacks basic supplies like pens and paper for keeping records, and is without running water for the staff to wash their hands between treating patients. Despite those challenges, the staff courageously and selflessly serves the impoverished community of Kuria with kindness and excellence. Although the facility charges small fees for visits and medicines (about $0.50 per visit), many still cannot afford to pay – but the staff treats them anyways. The staff is paid by the small fees charged to patients, but sometimes they go without pay because so few of their patients had money that month.
Because my job requires that I map out the entire healthcare network for the community, I also have to travel to distant medical facilities used by the people of Kuria. On a visit to a small medical facility, I observed a doctor as he treated a female patient. I was taking notes and drinking my Coke (they insisted on buying it for me) when the doctor said, “The patient has agreed to have an HIV test.” I thought to myself, “I’m sitting here, drinking a Coke, and this lady is getting an HIV test.” As her blood was drawn and the doctor spoke with her about the prevention and treatment of HIV, I questioned what I would do when I saw the result. How would I react? I’ve never seen someone tested and diagnosed with HIV before. And as I questioned this, I turned my focus to her. How would She react? SHE’S never been tested or diagnosed with HIV before. I realized in that moment, the gravity of the situation here.
People are dying of diseases that can be prevented! The health system of Kuria is in dire need and the plan that Nuru’s is formulating could literally transform thousands of lives. Minutes later, the doctor looked at the blood sample next to him and said, “The test is negative.” I don’t know who was more relieved, me or the patient.
What an incredible opportunity I have to do this work and invest this part of my life in serving a cause bigger than myself. There’s no other feeling like it. I implore each of you reading this blog search yourself, and find the thing that will light you up! Give yourself to that thing, whatever it is, for a season, and just SEE what happens!!