Columbia Masters in Development Practice Students Work with MCI to Map Kisumu’s Health Facilities

Two Columbia Masters in Development Practice (MDP) students are interning with MCI this summer in Kisumu, Kenya, helping to map and inventory the city’s 70+ health facilities. The students, Mss. Paloma Ruiz and Mariana Costa, are working closely with MCI’s Public Health Specialist for Kisumu, Ms. Beldina Opiyo-Omolo, to conduct this research.

Paloma and Mariana are recording coordinates, taking photographs and gathering basic information on all Kisumu health facilities – public, private and faith-based – including details on infrastructure, human resources and population served. Their work, conducted using smart phones provided by the infrastructure team of MCI’s sister Millennium Villages Project, will result in a comprehensive geo-map, accompanied by a report summarizing their findings. Paloma, Mariana and Beldina are conducting this research at the request of the District Health Research Information Officer, the Kisumu East Medical Officer of Health and the Medical Officer of Health for the Department of Health at the City Council of Kisumu, who oversee the city’s health facilities.

Paloma and Mariana, who have come respectively from Spain and Peru to study in this innovative degree program co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, are also mapping some civil infrastructure in several of Kisumu’s informal settlements, focusing on private health clinics, water points, market places, churches, mosques, schools and administrative posts. Their assignment falls within the research practicum that is a key part of the MDP program, offering graduate students the opportunity to observe and engage in real-world development interventions even as they study development economics, examine case studies in development practice and focus on what it takes, in individual settings, to actually achieve each of the Millennium Development Goals.

“The public, private and non-profit sectors are all important healthcare providers in Kisumu,” said Mariana. “From large hospitals to incredibly small clinics, the face of healthcare changes drastically throughout the city, with quality and access decreasing as we reach the poorer areas in the slums of Kisumu. Despite the Ministry of Health having a comprehensive database of all health facilities in the city, the proliferation of small, often informal, health providers in slums has made it difficult to keep up to date. The current MCI geo-mapping project will try to reach these clinics, helping the Medical Officer of Health update and expand its information to coordinate the delivery of health services.”

MCI is grateful for Paloma’s and Mariana’s assistance with this important assignment, which will assist the city, district and Ministry health offices in their planning efforts to improve access to public health for all Kisumu residents.

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