Medics deliver care in remote Kenyan villages
Personnel from 33 Field hospital are currently in Kenya taking part in Exercise ASKARI Serpent, delivering primary health care and dental care to villagers in very remote parts.
The exercise tests communications, transport, recovery and resupply as well as providing invaluable clinical experience for the medics.
Working alongside Kenyan Army, Kenyan Medical Services, Population Services Kenya and Kenyan Red Cross, the 33 Field Hospital team is helping to set up Health Outreach Clinics (HOC) to help promote the importance of health care to local communities who, due to their isolated locations are unable to gain regular access. The HOC’s are set up in different locations, giving as many people as possible the opportunity to access the facilities. On average the clinics are seeing 150 patients daily.
Medical Officer, Captain Laurence Baum, who is based at Bovington with 5 Medical Regiment, has deployed with 33 Field Hospital. He said: “Many of the local community suffer from medical conditions for long periods and to think we are here helping is very satisfying. Although many do come to the clinics out of curiosity, all those we have seen have needed medical help. We have no idea what we are going to encounter on a daily basis.
“A young mother brought in her three-week-old baby who was clearly very sick. After assessing the baby, it became very clear how seriously ill she was and at some point we would need to move the baby to the nearest hospital… Without our intervention this baby would most certainly have died.”
Back to basic clinical skills
Among those on exercise is Reservist midwife Major Ann Beckwith. Ann is an NHS midwife based at Lancashire Teaching Hospital Preston. She has been a Reservist for nine years and this is the first time she has been on exercise with a regular unit. She said: “It has been a very challenging and very positive experience even though I have had to go back to basic clinical skills.
“Over four days I have seen around 30 pregnant women who are generally in very good health, the only real problem is anaemia and considering they do not have the anti-natal care that we have in the UK they are doing extremely well. I would never have had the opportunity to contribute to anything like this had I not been a reservist. I am extremely fortunate to have the full support from the Head of Midwifery and look forward to sharing my experience with other midwives once I return to the UK.”
UK Military has trained alongside Kenyan colleagues for many years and looks to further strengthen its existing ties. Military personnel benefit hugely from exercises such as this, gaining invaluable training in challenging environments and unfamiliar conditions. The experience allows personnel to deal with varied patient population, which is very different to their work in the UK.
Photographer Cpl Jamie Peters; Crown copyright.