|Members of the Maasai community in Shompole, Kenya, with Dr. Sugi (second from right).
Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Mark
Upon Mark Sugi, MD ’11, completed a surgical internship at UCLA in 2012. In June 2015, he began his residency in radiology at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona. Over the last decade, Dr. Sugi has traveled to Cairo, Egypt; Pyongyang, North Korea; Mumbai, India; and Pristina, Kosovo, where he has witnessed the significant healthcare challenges faced by people of different socioeconomic circumstances.
In June 2013, I had the opportunity to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, with Medical Missions Kenya (MMK) and Hunger Relief. The organization has deep roots that spread to the most remote villages in the country, where access to information, healthcare and even food can be severely limited. Our multidisciplinary team included three physicians, six nurses, pharmacists, a researcher and a host of local family and friends. We traveled to villages where a need had been identified, predominantly through the extensive network to which Millicent Manyore, a UCLA nurse and the founder of MMK, has access. Outside of Eldoret, a large town of around 300,000 people in the west of the country, we met with civic leaders and established an ad hoc jigger-treatment clinic. After systematically rearranging the pews of a local church and establishing measures for crowd control, our team commenced a full day of jigger extraction from dozens of children who suffer from this parasitic infection.
We trekked to Shompole, in the south, an isolated conservancy along the Kenya- Tanzania border, where we encountered colorful Maasai who had walked scores of miles to reach the clinic. One mother, whose infant demonstrated advanced manifestations of infectious disease, had traveled for hours for antibiotics that would ultimately spare her baby’s vision. All medications were donated or purchased by MMK.
I left Kenya impressed by a generous and vibrant people who opened their doors to us at every stop on our journey. Though there remain significant barriers to adequate care, the impact of MMK’s leadership and dedication is real. MMK is making a true difference in the health of those the organization serves.
To learn more about MMK, go to: medicalmissionskenya.org