This event was held at the St Thomas’s Hospital opposite the prestigious Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
Together with Tujigenje Pamoja Network, we were pleased to show recognition of the hard work that Kenyan health professionals are providing back home. We aimed to showcase projects on the ground and help facilitate delegates to support in a tangible way, as well as for Kenyan health professionals to network, connect and recognise each other’s great work.
We were honoured and grateful to have the Kenyan High commission in London support us and endorse our platform to engage UK Kenyan Healthcare professionals in a systematic way.
His Excellency, High Commissioner Lazarus Amayo reminded us to be brand ambassadors for Kenya, particularly as Britons are the highest number of tourists visiting Kenya as well as Kenyan tea and flower consumers.
Ambassador Jackline Yonga and Deputy Head of Mission, who championed the Kenyan Diaspora Policy, highlighted how diasporans can work together with the government to help achieve the Strategic Health Vision for 2030 including private public partnerships and health tourism to name a few. Additional areas of interest included standardisation of care, education and awareness of the public and managing the added burden of non-communicable diseases.
Ambassador Yonga also highlighted the strategic input that diasporans played and informed us that we were high on the ministerial agenda in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as one of the pillars to achieve Vision 2030. There is also a dedicated desk to deal with diaspora issues. She encouraged diasporans to recognise our value by being the 48th County – enabling us to work nationally and at a strategic level. The Kenyan Government’s commitment and incentives are enabling us to have easier access contribute to Kenya, including dual citizenship. She also encouraged us to be familiar with the Kenyan Diaspora Policy and Kenyan Communication Strategy as frameworks to use when engaging with the government.
The High Commission’s report of our event can be found at: http://kenyahighcom.org.uk/the-east-african-healthcare-forum/
Below are highlights of our speakers’ presentations;
Dr Titilola Banjoko is a Diaspora expert, Clinician and Director of health delivery at Brighton and Hove NHS trust. She is also Co-chair of Better Health Care for Africa, as well as sitting on the All Party Parliamentary Group committee on Global health chaired by Lord Nigel Crisp.
She talked of the importance of using our leverage as African diaspora to advocate, lobby at a Pan African level and harness our collective energy to influence African health matters and policies.
Since the majority of us work in the NHS, we can also use the NHS International Policy enabling some paid leave towards our work on African Health projects whether here or abroad.
Mrs Dorisilla Adolwa is an inspiring midwife with greater than 30 years’ experience, and passionate about water births. Over the years she has arranged placements for medical and nursing students to go on elective in Kakamega County Hospital in Western Province. She also inspires primary and secondary schools students to see healthcare as a future career. She is passionate about breast feeding and has a great vision to build a hospital in her home area. We wish her all the best and hope to support her in her future endeavours.
Ms Veronica Kararwa, a behavioural therapist, spoke to us about the Kevin Kararwa Trust, which was founded following her son’s death from leukaemia in 2014. She shared the Trust’s journey so far and their vision to eventually have a bone marrow register in Kenya. Currently they work on raising awareness and dispelling myths about being a donor, since modern technology makes initial testing easier with a simple mouth swab. They also aim to get more non-Caucasian groups on the register since we were 30 times less likely to find a donor than Caucasians.
Dr Evanson Kamuri is a dermatologist and Assistant Director at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi. He was our inspirational Keynote speaker and did not fail to disappoint. He flew into London especially for our event to engage with Kenyan healthcare professionals and to discuss how we could support KNH projects. Four areas were identified following the focus group with 35 delegates and we’ll facilitate with him to enable diasporans to contribute to KNH improvements.
Mr Velji Vekaria is the Vice President of SKLPC (Shred Kurch Lera Patel Community) representing 7,000 Kenyan Indians and more than 30,000 generally. He gave a great overview of their charitable and fundraising work, including their innovative ways of fundraising and the support they provide to patients after hospital treatment including travel and food.
Having worked in the construction industry for several decades in the UK and Kenya, several delegates were keen to network with him around building health facilities.
Dr James Wafula, a founding member of the Kidney Research Team Kenya presented the organisation and the pilot project between Kiambu County and King’s College Hospital London – with the view to expansion to other Kenyan areas. The organisation’s aims include providing affordable dialysis and kidney transplants to all, as well as collaboration in epidemiological work, research and education.
Professor Eunice Cheserem, Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology University of Nairobi, spoke via video-link about the challenges facing maternal health in Kenya and how diaspora can contribute. She was keen to see them engage especially in the area of gynae-oncology and research.
We also acknowledge the presence of Dr Ngugi and Dr Mbogo who are currently in the UK on an exchange programme in Renal Medicine.
We are also grateful to Mr Peter Kahoro of Kahoro Consulting Ltd for sponsoring the event.