STEP Story: Olivier Veilleux

R3 Internal Medicine, McGill University
Lumumba Sub County Hospital, January 15 – February 11, 2018

The training I received in Medicine has taught me to this day how to diagnose, treat and manage a number of conditions in a setting where resources are abundant. Working in multicultural hospitals in Montreal has brought me to question myself about healthcare in low resource countries. Indeed, advances in science and technology are spectacular, but inequalities in health care are real and shocking, which is why I decided to go abroad and undertake a four-week clinical elective at Lumumba County Hospital in Kisumu County within the province of Nyanza in Kenya during my third year of residency in internal medicine.

Participating in the STEP program through FACES was an amazing experience. The first day of the rotation was spent rotating through the different departments (social services, tuberculosis (TB) clinic, pharmacy, lab, clinics, prevention of mother-child transmission) to get to know everyone’s role and understand the hospital’s system. The first two weeks were spent in the TB clinic with an excellent clinician who taught me a lot about TB diagnosis, prevention and treatment. During the third week, I worked in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) clinic. The work being done in this clinic is very demanding, but the rate of vertical HIV transmission has decreased dramatically in the past years in Kisumu thanks to the combined efforts of clinicians and patients. My last week was spent in the adult clinic where I saw patients who were newly diagnosed with HIV, follow-ups and urgent cases which needed immediate medical attention.

We are not quite exposed to tropical medicine in Canada, therefore the month spent in Kenya was a good opportunity to diagnose rare conditions. I was also asked to do a formal presentation about anemia in HIV and we had multiple case discussions throughout the month.  

During these four weeks, I learned a lot about medicine and how to provide care when resources are not readily available. However, what I enjoyed the most about this rotation goes beyond the medicine. Indeed, I was lucky enough to meet wonderful people and make friends who showed me around and taught me about the Kenyan culture. For example, at lunch time we went to eat in locals’ houses and sometimes at night we went out to local bars or restaurants. During the weekends, my colleague and I went to Mombasa and on a safari in the Masai Mara.

I consider myself privileged to have had the chance to work at Lumumba. Thank you so much for the opportunity. I will definitely return.