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DOCTOR’S PROFILE: DR DIANA ASENA

Dr Diana: I was motivated to do medicine to hopefully ensure community health and empowerment becomes a reality. One point in time our health system will focus on preventive rather than curative medicine through community empowerment

Occupation: Medical officer 

Speciality: General practitioner 

Place of work: Kakamega County Referral Hospital

Years of practise: 5 years

Doctors play important roles to maintain or restore human health through the practice of medicine. They work tirelessly between shifts, take time to pay attention to us when we visit for consultation and even give the best approaches towards our health concerns.

Little is known about our doctors: the social lives they lead beyond practising medicine, the challenges they face in their line of practice and even how they balance between work, family and personal lives.

Today, we spend time with Dr Diana from Kakamega County Referral Hospital as she takes us through her journey in medicine and the achievements she’s made.

ESTHER: Thank you so much for having us. Briefly tell us, who is Dr Diana?

Dr Diana: I was born and raised in Western part of Kenya. I schooled in the same region but later joined high school and University in Nairobi. I am extremely religious and I’m into fitness and living a healthy lifestyle.

ESTHER: Thank you. When did you decide to become a medical doctor and why? What was the greatest motivation?

Dr. Diana: My paternal grandparents stayed in a very remote village back in Lugari. It was very inaccessible to basic amenities like health. They both died of hypertensive complications at a very young age. I was motivated to do medicine to hopefully ensure community health and empowerment becomes a reality. One point in time our health system will focus on preventive rather than curative medicine through community empowerment

ESTHER: Have you tested your motivation? Kindly explain?

Dr. Diana: I think I test my motivation every day at work. Every day at my consultation desk in the outpatient clinic I come across cases that would have been adequately dealt with proper community education or patients would stand a better chance of survival if the conditions like cancer were discovered early.

ESTHER: If you were not accepted at medical school, would you have alternative career plans and still pursue your interests?

Dr Diana: If I weren’t accepted to medical school I would probably become a pastor. I feel like pastors or religious leaders are also adequately placed to impact change at household level.

ESTHER: That’s amazing. How do you visualise using your medical education:

Dr Diana: I believe doctors are experts of change, helping people to live healthier lives and adapt to management of chronic disease. We will need more than a capacity for change: we will need an enthusiasm for change. 

ESTHER: Which other field in medicine would you want to pursue and why?

Dr Diana: I would like to pursue paediatrics. I feel like children are a neglected group in society and yet they are vulnerable. They need a stronger support system.

ESTHER: Medicine can be met with workloads. How Have you learnt to manage work-related stress and time management?

Dr Diana: Work comes first for me. I am not doing very well on time management since I’m finding it difficult to balance between work and family.  Still the same, I’m working on developing new skills to help me manage work-related stress and balance time and so far, I can confidently say, I’ve been doing well. 

ESTHER: What do you do for fun?

Dr Diana: I love to travel a lot. Every time I’m on leave I choose to travel, it helps me release tension and also helps me connect with different people and cultures . I also enjoy making healthy meals. I’m a health enthuthiast.
Additionally, I ensure I learn a new skill every time I am on leave.  I have learnt graphic design, swimming, making mats and driving.

ESTHER: I love what you do for fun. Tell us of your achievements as a medical doctor:

Dr Diana: Most of my achievements have been towards paediatrics. I’ve managed to get certified as an emergency care provider for the paediatric age group in the ICU. I have also managed to organise for all sickle cell patients to get confirmatory tests every month from AMPATH.

I also associate very well with my patients and create a good rapport with them. It is a great feeling to see them come back healthy and strong. 

ESTHER: Congratulations on your achievements. What experiences have you had working with sick people? What has it taught you?

Dr Diana: It is equally satisfying to see a patient who had lost hope slowly regaining it and getting better as days go by. I have learnt to be patient with my patients’ progress everyday and to also reassure them of their health. Another important thing I have learnt is to communicate effectively especially to patients with life-threatening conditions. That way, I have avoided giving more information than what they want to hear.

ESTHER: What excites you about medicine in general? 

Dr Diana: I love helping people. I can’t imagine a more fulfilling career than being a medical doctor. I have always wanted to be part of a profession that focuses on helping people regardless of the situations there might be and more so helping people live happy and healthy lives. 

ESTHER: What do you see are the most pressing issues in health today? 

Dr Diana: What I have seen as pressing issues is limited access to healthcare facilities, cost implications even in our public facilities, facilities have not been equipped with proper equipment and services to handle most medical challenges. 

ESTHER: How do you think these issues should be addressed?

Dr Diana: I think the government can start by reducing healthcare costs and improving quality of healthcare. To add on the same, improve infrastructure. I believe improved infrastructure is key to promote improved standards of healthcare for the wellbeing of the whole society.  

ESTHER: What is the vision of medicine in Kenya?

Dr Diana: I imagine the future of medicine in Kenya. For Kenya my vision would be to see a well established healthcare system especially in family medicine that focuses more on the community. This would enhance preventive medicine which is superior to the current curative medicine that we practise. Improved community health would also improve empowerment and change the health seeking behaviour to a more proactive one and hence earlier diagnosis and better management of terminal and lifestyle diseases.

ESTHER What is the vision of medicine in East Africa:

Dr Diana: I believe East Africa is a continent with vast resources. Healthcare is poorly accessible and alternative medicine commonly practised in most of the East African countries. To improve care we need to improve accessibility. Ignorance is also another major contributing factor to poor health. Empowerment and education even in rural areas will serve to improve healthcare in future.

Written by Esther Mugo.

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