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Students of medicine take talents to slums

University students have been known or accused of all manner of mischief. The Mombasa prostitution saga that has dominated headlines in the past few months involved students too.

But parents can now afford a smile as a group of medical students from the University of Nairobi has begun a programme of putting to good use their leisure time and talents.

According to Steve Nigel, head of the Medical Society for Action (Mesfa), the club has attracted support from students in other fields including nurses, pharmacists, and dentists. Mesfa is championed by students whose goal is to give back to the community.

Mentoring children

“We are driven by the fact that we have the ability to change society and with our knowledge, we attempt to reach it through monthly events,” said Nigel.

The group is only a year old, but the impact of its outreach programmes can be felt in many parts of the county, including slum areas of Kibera, Kariobangi and Dandora.

“We use our knowledge to help people to make informed choices about their health. For example, when we are talking to children in schools or churches, we incorporate information and demonstrate how to wash hands. We also give them deworming medicine,” he added.

Mesfa was formed in April 2012. The group has different programmes for specific activities so as to incorporate the input of every professional.

Events such as medical camps include free consultations from senior students. 

“We refer patients to major hospitals if their cases are serious. We also give health talks for preventable diseases like hypertension, diabetes and cancer as we work under sponsorship of different churches and institutions,” he added. 

The group’s other programmes include blood donation, giving health talks, screening for lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cervical and breast cancer and kidney problems in general.

A Motivation in Action programme is a specially designed programme where the group mentors children in 11 Kibera-based families. Its aim is to inculcate a positive attitude in the youngsters. 

“With the help of Africa Cancer Foundation, we have school sessions in which we teach children what cervical cancer is, the risk factors, prevention and management. We are planning to start health clubs in various schools too,” added Nigel.

Most of their activities are done during the weekends. The group has been received positively.

“Many Kenyans don’t have information on prevention of diseases. What they have is based on rumours or myths like the belief that bathing with warm can prevent spread of HIV/Aids,” said Nigel.