September 8, 2011
I returned late last night from three days in rural eastern Kenya, doing a needs assessment in the Mwingi district about 80 miles east of Nairobi. We visited about 8-10 health clinics and dispensaries, and a few district hospitals. The population there frequently travel 5-10 miles daily just to find water. Dispensaries or Health Clinics are often up to 15 miles away from remote villages. As usual, the need is so great, one of the hardest decisions is choosing where to start. the Ministry of Health runs the existing health facilities, but they are amazingly understaffed and under-resourced. Possibilities for our involvement in this district include developing an outreach program to access the distant villages, and to develop some clinical staff training around nutrition (capacity building).
Here are some of the photos of our two days there, and will hopefully give you a sense of the environment and the beautiful people here.
Today, three of us had the opportunity to visit the U.S. embassy and meet with Ambassador Jim Swan, who has been named the special envoy for Somalia. Relief International has a private meeting with him as we are one of the few U.S.-based NGOs with fairly extensive operations there.
I only have a few more days here, but expect to continue helping to develop programs here. We have 4-5 different grant proposals into various donors (UNICEF, OFDA, WFP, etc.), and within the next month expect to establish additional programs in Somalia and Kenya.
Thank you all for your support and kind words!
Hernando Garzon, MD
Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center