A Leicester nurse has described a recent trip to gain an insight into how healthcare is delivered to remote populations in Kenya, where patients can walk for hours for treatment for conditions such as worms, as a “real eye opener”.
The trip by Margaret Platts, a matron at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, was part of an exercise with 2 Medical Regiment, which provides healthcare to villagers in remote areas of Africa.
“Going back to work has really made me appreciate the smaller things in life”
The expedition, called Exercise Askari Serpent, was intended to help the trust’s clinicians gain an insight into how army reservists help villagers who are unable to gain regular access to treatment.
Last year the trust signed a covenant with the armed forces that saw registered nurses and combat medical technicians from 2 Medical Regiment working alongside teams at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Ms Platts, a matron in the hospital’s accident and emergency department, also works as a clinical educator where she mentors and facilitates placements for the combat medical technicians.
The six-day expedition gave her the opportunity to see how healthcare is delivered by military personnel and the cultural aspects around the Kenyan population.
The average life expectancy is just 59 years old, 50% of females have undergone genital mutilation and 6% of the population are HIV positive.
The group was given a tour of a health outreach clinic – eight tents varying including booking points, triage, health advice, dentistry, a pharmacy and an examination tent where nurses and doctors treated patients.
Matron says Kenya mission was ‘real eye opener’
Ms Platts said: “People had travelled vast distances on foot from their homes and often slept under a tree overnight just to be seen the next day.
Some of the ailments presented to the clinic included worms, scabies and abdominal ulcers – often chronic and at an advanced stage due to the delay in treatment.
Ms Platts said: “The expedition not only reiterated the vital role reservists play in the British Army of today, but it was a real eye opener on how different health care is over there.
“Seeing the type of illnesses people were being treated for made you realise how lucky we are to have such great healthcare. Going back to work has really made me appreciate the smaller things in life,” she said.