Kapsowar Hospital – Kenya
This full-service hospital is lead by the African Inland Church (AIC) and since 1933 has provided care for people in a region who suffer from the combined impact of economic deprivation, rural location, and deficient medical care. Malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV are frequently treated, along with traumatic injuries, birth complications, and non-infectious chronic diseases.
Kapsowar Hospital has a strong commitment to medical education, frequently hosting medical students from other countries. Students are assigned to medical, pediatric or surgical rotations. Often, students will round in the mornings and following up with patients in the afternoons or assist in the operating theatre. Students take night call with appropriate back up, and they are encouraged to be involved in as much as they feel comfortable.
Location & Community
Kapsowar is a small village within the Marakwet District of the North Rift Valley Province. It is situated on the eastern edge of the Cherangani Hills overlooking the Kerio Valley. At an altitude of about 7800 feet (2,600 meters), and temperatures daily between 60 to 80 degrees (16-29 degree centigrade), the climate is quite pleasant; however, evening and night temperatures can be chilly. Rainy season extends from April through August.
AIC Kapsowar Hospital is a major facilitator for economic development presently experienced in Kaposwar. The town itself has a number of small shops and a local market which sells a fairly wide selection of local produce as well as basic cooking ingredients.
Become familiar with Kenya’s culture, history and economy by reviewing the Wikipedia Kenya Profile. Rich resources for Kenya health information include the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation IHME Kenya Country Profile and the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory Kenya Data.
Visitors should arrive in Nairobi, the capital city. The hospital will usually arrange pickup from the airport and transportation to the hospital. Alternatively, one may travel from Nairobi to Kapsowar via matatus – small buses and vans.
For current information, please visit the Kenyan Embassy website appropriate for your country. United States citizens may visit the website for the Kenyan Embassy in the USA: https://www.kenyaembassydc.org. United States citizens can normally purchase a visa on arrival at the airport in Nairobi and should be prepared to pay cash in US dollars. To speed the immigration process, the visa application can be downloaded from the Kenyan Embassy website and completed in advance.
Traveler’s Health & Safety
Hepatitis A and B vaccinations must be up to date. Malaria may be a risk in this region, and visitors should discuss prophylaxis with their physicians prior to travel. One should consult with their personal physician before traveling, and refer to the CDC Travel Website for the most up-to-date health information.
Even at this high altitude, people coming for care at Kapsowar Hospital frequently suffer from malaria, especially in the rainy season. Leishmaniasis and malnutrition are also occasionally encountered, along with more common respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, dehydration, arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes. Congenital defects, tuberculosis, HIV, burns, and trauma from falls and motor vehicle accidents are frequent, as is sepsis and malignancies.
English is the official medical language of Kenya. English is routinely used in the hospital by the staff, and staff can interpret for Kenyan nationals who may not speak English. Most nationals’ first language is either their tribal tongue or Swahili.
Medical Care Services
Kapsowar Hospital was first established by Africa Inland Mission (AIM) in 1933. In 1963, AIM handed over ownership of the hospital to the Africa Inland Church (AIC). The 140-bed hospital today includes departments of surgery, maternity, male and female inpatient, general outpatient (OPD), comprehensive care clinic (HIV care), eye clinic, maternal health clinic, and pastoral care. These are all supported by a small pathology lab and X-ray facilities. Kapsowar Hospital provides 4,000-5,000 admissions per year (931 male, 1052 female, 1347 maternity, and 738 children), and delivers 1200 to 1300 babies per year, with more than 100 by caesarean section. The hospital compound is comprised of 12 buildings and 22 staff residences. A new nursing school was constructed and opened in 2008.
Healthcare Profession Staff
The current full-time medical staff is entirely Kenyan, complemented by a varying number of international medical volunteers and students.
Kapsowar Hospital has a strong commitment to medical education, frequently hosting medical students and residents from other countries. Students are assigned to medical, pediatric or surgical rotations. Often, students will round in the mornings and following up with patients in the afternoons or assist in the operating theatre. Students take night call with appropriate back up, and they are encouraged to be involved in as much as they feel comfortable. Previous INMED Learners who served at this training site include these Graduates.
Student Lodging & Meals
The town of Kapsowar offers basic shopping in stores open-air market places, however the choices can be limited for people requiring a more western style of cuisine. A wider variety of foods are available in the town of Eldoret, about 2 hours away by road.
The accommodations at the hospital include a number of self-contained houses and a hostel. The hostel often will house short-term volunteers and medical students. Each of the houses has facilities for gas cooking, electricity, water filtration and hot showers etc. There is a charge for accommodation based on the number of nights of the stay.
Internet is available in the hospital by using either broadband or using a mobile phone signal.
INMED invites all participants to consider raising extra funds to donate to support this facility. While such efforts are not required, they will provide opportunities INMED personnel to become involved in this important aspect of international healthcare.
Behavior & Dress
Overall, Kenyans dress more conservatively and formally than typical westerners. Men wear business casual in the hospital – usually kakis and a nice short or long-sleeved shirt with a collar. Shoes should be semi-formal or formal dress shoes, which need to be kept clean for wearing in the hospital. Sandals are not appropriate in a professional work environment. Men do not commonly wear shorts – only for athletic activities.
Though the culture is changing, most women still wear loose fitting skirts below the knee and skirts that cover their shoulders. Short sleeves are fine but women should not wear sleeveless tops. Shoes should be appropriate for a work environment and should be kept clean. For athletic activities women may wear loose fitting trousers or long track pants. Women do wear scrubs in the operating room and while these are available in the theatre area it is worth bringing these from home, along with a cloth head cover. One should also bring a white coat and stethoscope.
What To Pack
Visitors should bring copies of all healthcare profession licenses, diplomas, or certifications. It is also recommended to pack a carry-on bag that has essentials items just in case one’s luggage becomes lost.