Nairobi Center Stories: Collins Mokua - Columbia Medical College

October 26, 2018

The summer of 2018 was a great learning experience for me both professionally and academically. The project I was a part of was sponsored by the Program for Global and Population Health and the Laidlaw Scholars Program both based in Columbia University in the city of New York. Our research site was Nairobi, Kenya and it was first time having a deep look at oral health and the role it plays in the overall health of the body. It was very quickly made clear to me that in many healthcare systems around the world, oral health is so often not addressed. It also became very clear to me just how significant our mouth and teeth are to our quality of life. These two lessons were the driving force for our mission in Kenya; to address the overlooking of oral health in health care systems, and by so doing, improve the quality and range of care the community was receiving. I got a closer look and comprehension of how oral ailments develop and both the preventative and curative strategies to address them.

The Columbia Global Center located in Nairobi was instrumental to supporting our work while we were in Kenya. They provided office space and material necessary for the implementation of our research. I cannot imagine a better summer experience than doing fulfilling work in a place you love. The most remarkable part of the summer for me was being involved in real world research, one where I could see the people who our research would directly impact. I would absolutely recommend this type of research to any students interested in practicing medicine. It added to my appreciation of the kind of work I want to do in the future, touching people’s lives.