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Center for Global Surgery and Health Equity »  CGSS Blog »  Forging a New Partnership in Trauma Surgery Research in Nairobi, Kenya

Forging a New Partnership in Trauma Surgery Research in Nairobi, Kenya

Author: Brian Shaw, BS

Date of Publication: Friday, April 7th, 2017

Sitting in the cramped room with green chairs, I looked down at my phone. 12:30pm. I had been sitting there for two hours. The admin and I chatted about how she had family in the US—Denver, in fact. I told her my aunt and uncle lived there, too. Eventually, the head doctor was able to step away from patients long enough to fill out our short survey. We were one step closer to achieving our goal.

In mid-2016, the then Program Manager for the Center for Global Surgical Studies showed me an interesting data set that had the geo-coordinates of traffic accidents in Nairobi. We were immediately interested in combining this with data about hospitals in Nairobi to ensure that there was good access to trauma surgical care in the city. After a few fits and starts, we were able to partner with some amazing nurses and physicians at Kenyatta National Hospital: Ali Wangara, Mbatha Wambua, and Jason Kiruja. Together, we shepherded the project from idea into an Ethics Board-approved reality.

A few short months after that I was off to Nairobi to collect data that we couldn’t obtain from large databases. I was welcomed with open arms by Ali, Mbatha, and Jason. And, after two weeks of fighting valiantly against the impressive Nairobi traffic, we had collected surveys from nearly all of the hospitals that met our inclusion criteria, even if it did take a bit of patience.

I was heartened during my data collection to hear that many of the facilities were interested in the work we were doing. Road traffic accidents are a common and fatal event in Nairobi specifically and Kenya in general (Ziraba, Kyobutungi, and Zulu, 2011; Ogendi and Ayisi, 2011). The dedicated women and men serving in these hospitals talked of the difficulty of taking care of these patients, especially with the dual pressure of knowing that many could not pay for services and lacked insurance. The maxim of “No Margin, No Mission” was on the lips of many of the providers. They welcomed any data that would shed light on the scope of the problem of trauma and possibly increase support to adequately address it.

Sitting at home now in San Francisco, I feel so incredibly lucky to have worked with such an amazing team in order to gather data on a project that was relevant to all involved. I want to thank the Center for Global Surgical Studies for all of their generous support and look forward to sharing our results more broadly soon!

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