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February 16, 2019

Cross-country run helps county get Cuban cardiologist, more tools and skills

Joseph Jamenya on a 400km run to raise funds for a cardiac centre at his home county of Vihiga.
Joseph Jamenya on a 400km run to raise funds for a cardiac centre at his home county of Vihiga.

My 400km run from Vihiga to Nairobi may not have met its ambitious target yet, but it has put cardiac health on the agenda and rallied stakeholders to donate equipment and train medics.

I was on the road from March 5 to April 8, seeking to raise Sh60 million for a cardiac centre. The run was motivated by the death of my father and ailing of my mother both to heart-related conditions. I hoped to make treatment more accessible.

So far, the Vihiga government is building a six-storey Doctor's Plaza, where a cardiac centre will be set up. The run also helped VCRH acquire a cardiologist from the bunch of Cuban Doctors, bearing in mind there were only three cardiologists from the lot.  

The run was across seven counties: Vihiga, Kisunu, Kericho, Nakuru, Laikipia, Kiambu and finally Nairobi. During the run, my team and I engaged in several activities.

These included meeting key stakeholders in county governments, among them governors, deputy governors and health managers.

We held free health screening camps in Kericho, Kiambu and Nairobi. We also met potential donors.

We created awareness on cardiac diseases through health talks to individuals and groups.

Due to the advocacy, several achievements have been realised. These include lobbying for a cardiologist for the facility, and setting up of the initial cardiac unit.

Others are donation of assorted equipment, including 16 blood pressure machines, from CHAK; glucometers and ECG machine.

Other objectives achieved include training of health care workers by CHAK and the Health ministry on managing hypertension and diabetes.

We’ve also had training of community health care workers on screening for hypertension and issuing of BP machines to them.

Moving forward, we wish to strengthen the programme through: organising screening and treatment camps; expanding the involvement of community health care workers; and escalating awareness through health talks.

Other targets are lobbying for more funding for Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs); creating advocacy avenues, including seminars on NCDs; and engaging the county government, donors and partners on equipping the cardiac unit once the Plaza is complete.

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