Growing up in Kakamega, a rural county in western Kenya, medical technologies and services were extremely limited for Luqman Hodgkinson, PhD. Now a first-year Stanford medical student, Hodgkinson is spending the summer months back in his hometown conducting research and chronicling exciting new developments in medical education – the opening of the first medical school in the region.
With a population of nearly two million, Kakamega is the second largest county in Kenya behind only Nairobi. But with only 12 physician specialists, the vast majority of residents don’t have access to advanced care.
Earlier this year, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), a leading public university in Kenya, received authorization to become the very first medical school in Kakamega; it’s expected to enroll its first class of students this fall.
Hodgkinson has received a faculty position as an adjunct associate researcher at the new MMUST School of Medicine and will serve as the designated ambassador from MMUST to Stanford.
As Hodgkinson writes in his first blog entry en route to Kakamega, “Relationships are very important in medicine and this is also true for a medical school that is at the beginning of a bright future.”
His first research project in Kakamega focuses on the efficacy of community outreach programs designed to improve adherence to antiretroviral medications among adults with HIV/AIDS. Under the mentorship of Michele Barry, MD, FACP, senior associate dean for global health at Stanford, Hodgkinson is working with Emusanda Health Centre to evaluate the efficacy of these programs and demographic factors that may impact medication adherence.
He writes in his blog: “Medical research of all kinds is greatly needed in Kakamega to advance the health of the community, particularly in the area of HIV. In Kakamega County, the HIV prevalence is 5.6 percent. Addressing the local HIV pandemic is what inspired me many years ago to pursue medicine and now for the first time I am on my way to join this endeavor.”
Hodgkinson will be blogging from Kakamega throughout the summer, sharing updates from his research activities and collaborative opportunities for members of the Stanford community to get involved with the new MMUST School of Medicine. Follow along on the Center for Innovation in Global Health website.
Rachel Leslie is the communications officer at Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health.
Photo – of (left to right) clinician Jorcelyne Makori, peer educator James Okwiri and Hodgkinson – courtesy of Hodgkinson