Saturday, July 7, 2012

Farewell to Valerian

Wednesday July 4th was the last working day for our long-term trusted friend and Head Nurse Valerian Mshila Malasi.  Valerian joined the EAC in 2007 and was instrumental in making the health department what it is today.  He was not only a respected nurse in the community, he was also a great leader in developing community health programs and health education.

Valerian's leaving coincides with the closing of Vutakaka Health Clinic.  This is not a sad event but rather a joyous occasion along the EAC's path to sustainability.  Last year, when US Program Director Jen Hill visited Kenya, she sat down with Valerian and myself to develop a strategy to make our health programs more community run and more cost effective.  We realized that the government was working hard to improve the Takaungu Dispensary (the local government run clinic in our area).  We also learned that a building has been constructed in a nearby, under-served area.  This area, called Mavueni, is where more of the clients of Vutakaka Health Clinic were coming from.  We talked to the District Medical Officer of Health and learned that the government was desperate to use this new building to open a clinic in Mavueni, but did not have the start-up capital.  We saw that the EAC could further it's sustainability strategy by closing our clinic and using our resources to help the government open the Mavueni Clinic.  It is in-line with the EAC policy of not replicating government services, but rather supporting the services that the government IS able to offer.

This does not mean our health department is closing.  Rather the opposite - we will be able to devote more resources to our volunteer team of Community Health Workers, help our health education teachers develop strategies to reduce costs and thereby spread the program to other areas, and we will be able to offer other local organizations office space and partnerships to further community health in general.  We are also committed to supporting Takaungu and Mavueni Dispensaries to continue to improve out-patient health care in the Takaungu-Mavueni sub-location.

Of course, without a clinic, we don't need a full-time nurse.  Valerian was one of the main proponents of opening Mavueni Clinic, even though it meant he would be without a job.  We fully appreciate his support and understanding of the development strategies that the EAC believes and practices.  He will be a friend of the EAC's, and mine personally, for a very long time to come.

Good luck in all your future endeavors, Valerian!  You will always be a part of the EAC family.