Public health is defined as the science of protecting the safety and improving the health of communities through education, policy-making and research for disease and injury prevention. The definition is a mirror of not only the training levels but also a mirror of the focus areas for any targeted public health initiatives such as the international elective.
When one contemplates undertaking a public health elective abroad, it may arise as a key question what some of the factors of key considerations are. While many resources are a pointer to what to consider in funding and training exposure, we take you through a few of the reasons why you may consider to take this in Migori, Kenya.
A balance between hospital work and community engagement
The art of improving health as envisioned in the definitions calls for measures that go beyond hospital into community health and education. An elective in Migori, Kenya offers a chance to balance between hospital public health work such as the establishment of health safety measures and community outreach activities targeted towards the improvement of health such as malaria outreach campaigns.
Well spelt public health activities
While in Migori location the number of activities that you can get involved in is varied and vast. Such as mentioned above are the public health activities within the hospital and those that are in the community. Participation in the prevention of waterborne diseases, public health education forums such as Malaria & HIV prevention forums, inspection of markets and hotels for proper sanitation and adherence to food handling standards, cleaning and restoration of rivers as well as in the management of solid waste. These activities provide the very unique exposure to medicine and particularly with the preventive medicine which is at the core of public health.
The Rural touch
The location of this elective, Migori, Kenya is within the Kenyan Western Circuit which is essentially within rural areas. Rural areas are characterised by limited resources in comparison to the urban areas even in developing countries. Such as areas of inadequacy are in staffing where most of the healthcare staff prefer to work in Urban areas. The imbalance is also seen in the medical supplies, vaccines and technologies. The interest of public health students to the rural areas is, however, the patterning of diseases and the low literacy levels which leads to the presentation of medical cases in very advanced stages. Interesting also to this location is the traditional medicine and the reliance of the same as an intervention to the various diseases. Public health students in an elective abroad will definitely find richness in experience in the rural location.
Guided Learning and Supervision
The key to our public health rotation in this location is to find the students experienced mentors to guide them through learning. This location has very well knowledgeable mentors with whom we pair our students for them to learn and be guided to undertake the hands-on activities. This mentorship and supervision ensure that the students and professionals undertaking the elective are well involved in meaningful work that enables them to give their skills and knowledge for the community benefit beyond shadowing and observational learning.
Culture is a key determinant of health and wellbeing and especially in the context of rural areas. While Urban and coastal areas have a mix of cultures, the rural Migori is endowed with the rich Luo culture. A rotation here will see one immersed in local culture and way of life of the Luo people from the diets and local cuisines, to their traditional practices and through to their interpretation of health and wellbeing. Learning of the new culture is enriching and adds to the fun of travelling abroad.
Public health has more to the hospital work. It involves interactions with the people to understand the various macro factors that could be a contributor to their health and broadly therefore how their health can be improved and disease prevented. The great perspectives of public health in Migori makes it very desirable for the elective.