The Kenyan woman lying on the examination room bed said that she has had uterine bleeding for 6 months, but had not seen a doctor during that time. The associate professor of Radiology at the Department of Medicine of the University of Thessaly, Christos Rountaswho examined her with ultrasound, detected a large gynecological tumor, which must be removed immediately.
This possibility does not exist, as the East African country does not have a public health system and the cost of surgery far exceeds her finances, as well as most of the citizens. “I don’t know what will become of this woman,” he says in iatronet.Gr Mr. Routas, who was in Kenya a few days ago, with the third visit of the 20-member External Mission Team of Medical Students of the University of Thessaly. Through the Diocese of Kenya, which hosted the mission and for decades has been providing assistance as much as possible, a formula is being sought to carry out the operation.
In another area, a man visited the exam tent showing an X-ray. He had an accident months ago and has been walking around with a crushing broken collarbone that also needs immediate surgery. “Of course, we couldn’t do much, other than give him some painkillers. This man needs surgery, but he won’t because he’s getting weak,” says the Nikos Zikos, recently graduated from the Department of Medicine, who has started the specialty of Pathology.
The two mission members share their life experiences from a country where most of the population cannot pay for their health and if they get sick they have to accept their fate.
The third mission of the Team consisted of 15 students or recent graduates of the Department of Medicine of the University of Thessaly, two interns, a nurse and the professors of Immunology, Matthios Speleta and Radiology, Christos Roudas.
He was hosted for a week in Nairobi by the Metropolitan of Kenya, Mr. Makarios and made daily excursions to suburbs of the capital and to more remote areas in the countryside. The Team was divided into three departments, consisting of an adult, pediatric and ultrasound clinic, respectively, and provided primary care to hundreds of people, with history, clinical examination, followed by tests, other examinations and medication where necessary. For the first time, the mission was also equipped with a portable ultrasound, which enabled an imaging examination.
Infections and stress at 25
“We saw a lot of infections, at all ages, from babies a few months old to the elderly,” he says in iatronet.Gr pathology specialist Nikos Zikos adding: “Most were gastrointestinal infections, due to poor nutrition, poor water quality and poor sanitation in general”.
The man with the crushing broken collarbone that could not be helped was not the exception, but the rule, as a large proportion of people who came for examination had long had symptoms of a condition but had no access to medical care.
The young medical graduate did not hide his surprise when he measured excessively high blood pressure values in a large percentage of the population. “We even saw a value of 25 in the ‘big’ blood pressure, while almost half of the adults had values in the 18 and 19. Such pressures we have not seen in Greece and I don’t think we will see in our entire career”, he says, adding that the Greek mission had to procure antihypertensive drugs from the local market, because they ran out quickly, as did the antibiotics.
In too many people we saw pressures that we have never seen before. We also saw 25. Their breed is genetically accustomed to higher pressures, but the numbers are incredible. Almost half of the adults had extremely high blood pressure, 18, 19. We ran out of antihypertensives, we sourced from there, as well as antibiotics.
Doctors and students also diagnosed many cases of musculoskeletal pain, which is expected, as well as high sugar values. As far as viral respiratory infections are concerned, the vast majority of COVID tests were negative despite the relevant symptoms. The diagnosis in many cases of children and adults was streptococcal infection, for which antibiotic treatment was administered.
“It was a very educational experience for all of us, and not just clinically. It made us all more sensitive, because we saw firsthand that there are places in the world where a very large part of the population does not have access to the health care that we take for granted,” concludes Mr. Zikos.
Runtas: Tragic image in terms of health
“The general picture, as far as the health coverage of the population is concerned, is tragic. We diagnosed diseases without people being able to be treated, as there everything medical needs money”, notes the an. Professor of Radiology, Christos Rountas, quoting as a typical example that of the cancer patient he examined. He also found on the ultrasound many pregnancies, some of which were known to the women, others not, while he did not diagnose “tropical” diseases that are usually found in the liver or spleen in these areas of the planet.
Mr. Routas attributes the excessively high blood pressure values measured to poor nutrition and not to genetic causes. “Their diet is mainly based on fatty meals and they cannot pay attention to it, while they never measure the pressure. Sooner or later, these will unfortunately lead to heart failure problems,” he estimated.
The associate professor points out the great work of the Metropolitan of Kenya, who for decades has been organizing missions of volunteer doctors, both from Greece and from other countries of the world, for the health coverage of the population as much as possible.
iatronet.gr (Basilis Ignatiadis)