September 22, 2011

Lwala efforts highlighted at national meeting

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Milton Ochieng,’ M.D., collects water from an open well in Lwala, Kenya. The lack of running water was only one of the challenges he and his brother Fred had to overcome to open their village’s first medical clinic.

Lwala efforts highlighted at national meeting

A former Vanderbilt medical student who sparked an international effort to bring health care to his rural village in Kenya addressed the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting Sept. 20 and Sept. 22 in New York City.

The Lwala Community Clinic was expanded this year to become Lwala Community Hospital. More than 1,700 patients are treated each month, a better-than 50 percent increase since 2010, and deliveries in the hospital’s dedicated maternity wing have tripled.

The hospital is the central piece of the Lwala Community Alliance, a non-profit organization that also provides small scale micro-enterprise, public health outreach, water and sanitation and education. Its success is seen as a model for how local efforts, in partnership with universities and international organizations, can achieve dramatic results even in remote, resource-poor settings.

“The options are limitless so long as there is good training and coordination,” said Milton Ochieng,’ M.D., who opened Lwala’s first clinic in 2007 with his brother Fred, also a graduate of Vanderbilt University Medical School who now is receiving his residency training at Vanderbilt.

Milton Ochieng,’ currently a gastroenterology fellow at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, spoke at the CGI meeting’s opening session on Sept. 20 and during a panel discussion on women’s health care on Sept. 22.

Established in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton, the CGI aims to “inspire, connect and empower a community of global leaders to forge solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.”

This year’s participants included former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, media moguls Tina Brown and Ted Turner, singer Barbra Streisand and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, who earned his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt.

Next month, Milton Ochieng’ will speak at another high-profile event, the inaugural Chicago Ideas Week.

He will appear on a health care panel with CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, M.D. Other participants include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.