More Than Medicine in Malindi, Kenya

More Than Medicine in Malindi

by Joanne Merriam



Vanderbilt ENT surgeon James Netterville at morning lecture.

The More Than Medicine ( team led a two-week educational surgical camp at Tawfiq Hospital in Malindi, Kenya in October 2016. This was More Than Medicine’s seventh camp in Malindi, and twenty-second in East Africa.

About 60 ENT surgeons serve Kenya’s 47 million residents. This shortage means that although many of our patients come from Malindi and the surrounding rural areas, many also travel 100 km or more to get to us, which takes many hours by bus.

Our head and neck oncologists concentrated on educating regional surgeons, in conjunction with the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery from the University of Nairobi and the Kenya Ear Nose and Throat Society, in treatments for tumors, vascular malfunctions, and congenital lesions of the head and neck. This year, we trained one ENT doctor from Uganda and eleven from Kenya, all based at teaching institutions so they can use this experience to educate the next generation of surgeons. Early morning lectures target the procedures performed that day.

This year, we also traveled to several schools specializing in deaf and hard-of-hearing students to perform hearing assessments to gather data on the causes of hearing loss in East Africa.


Speech Pathologist Jenn Craig Starkweather educates a patient.

Our team of twenty-four medical staff included surgeons from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, and Madigan Army Medical Center, as well as anesthesiologists, nurses, nurse anesthetists, and OR techs, and a nurse practitioner who saw patients in a tiny one-room clinic, with our pathologist from University of Chicago performing rapid assessment cytology and our speech pathologist from InHealth providing extensive support to laryngectomy patients.

These educational camps in Malindi would be impossible without the support and close collaboration of our partner The Caris Foundation through its educational mission efforts in Kenya.

We have also led educational surgical camps on the same model in Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria and Kijabe, Kenya, and, in association with University Hospitals Case Medical Center, in Kampala, Uganda.




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