OHR Announces Dr. Lily Muldoon as new Executive Director

The Organic Health Response (OHR) Board of Directors is excited to announce the start of our new Executive Director of OHR, Dr. Lily Muldoon!

Dr. Muldoon is a graduate of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, where she met OHR-EK Co-founder Dr. Chas Salmen in 2010. She also completed her Emergency Medicine residency at UCSF and obtained a specialized skill set through a Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. 

Since 2006, Dr. Muldoon has been involved with health improvements in Kenya. Her partnership with OHR and the EK Center started with performing a needs assessment for the Health Navigation Program in 2013 and eventually facilitating the program launch. Dr. Muldoon has served on the OHR Board of Directors for the past 5 years, operating as a Health Advisor and the Chair of the Development Committee.

She will be working closely with Richard Magerenge, OHR-EK Co-Founder and EK Executive Director to advance the mission of OHR-EK to further promote health and well-being, cultural resilience and environmental sustainability. 

Thank you to Kelsi Hines for her leadership, passion and perseverance in the role of Executive Director from June 2016 – June 2019. We are thrilled to have her join us on the Board of Directors.

We are confident that Dr. Muldoon will lead OHR-EK into a new era of advanced research, powerful partnerships and expanded vision.  Please join us in welcoming Dr. Lily Muldoon to her new position as Executive Director of Organic Health Response!


Rethinking our Rigor Mortis – A new publication!

As global health researchers, we have long embraced the conviction that the answers to complex problems of poverty and disease will reveal themselves if only we apply enough scientific rigor. Yet, at the community level, our group of American and Kenyan investigators has begun to question whether our veneration of rigor is itself contributing to the intractability of certain types of global health problems.

This recent publication, Rethinking our Rigor Mortis: Creating space for more adaptive and inclusive truth-seeking in community-based global health research in Kenya, illustrates examples from our experience among the remote island communities of Lake Victoria, Kenya, and join a chorus of emerging voices, to examine how our culture of control as global health scientists may marginalise truth-seekers and change-makers within communities we seek to serve. More broadly, we seek to acknowledge the limitations of control over truth that rigorous academic research affords. We suggest that by relinquishing this pervasive illusion of control, we can more fully appreciate complementary modes of answering important questions that rely upon the intrinsic resourcefulness and creativity of community-based enterprises taking place across sub-Saharan Africa. While such inquiries may never solve all problems facing the diverse populations of the continent, we advocate for a deeper appreciation of the inherent capacity of adaptive, locally contextualised investigations to identify meaningful and enduring solutions.

The Mfangano Community Health Field Station is a collaborative partnership blooming on the shores of Mfangano in Lake Victoria. For the past year, health practitioners from OHR, Maseno University in Kisumu and University of Minnesota have been working to expand and define how best we can apply knowledge and lessons learning to building resilience among this remote population.


Student Spotlight: Investigating How Health Navigation Improves Maternal Mortality on Mfangano Island

This year, we are grateful to have University of Minnesota Med Student, Nick DesLauriers, with us as a Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellow! Nick is currently working alongside our team on Mfangano to develop and implement the MOMENTUM Study on Mfangano. Check out the recent Student Spotlight article – Nick shares is first hand experience working on Mfangano!

“In July 2018, Nick DesLauriers arrived on the island as a Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellow. He is working with Charles (Chas) Salmen, UMN Department of Family Medicine assistant professor, on a project funded by a UMN Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility (CGHSR) seed grant. The research team is studying whether the “Health Navigator” program, through which trained community health volunteers (CHVs)—first responders—in the village, can effectively coordinate and expedite emergency care transfers to the mainland. The project uses an emergency boat, available 24-hours a day, with a captain and a nurse.”Read more!

OHR Co-Founder Joel Oguta Speaks at University of Minnesota

During the month of September, OHR Co-Founder Joel Oguta is in Minnesota on a Visiting Scholar Award sponsored by the University of Minnesota Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility. After hosting hundreds of volunteers and visitors in his home on Mfangano Island, this is Joel’s first trip to the United States!

During his time in Minnesota, Joel will be helping to launch the “Mfangano Island Community Health Field Station,” a new partnership between the University of Minnesota and Organic Health Response. The vision for the field station is to cultivate community-based research, bilateral training opportunities, and foster long-term resilience among the communities of Lake Victoria. Through an adaptive “Community Health Ecosystem” model, we hope to grow transcultural friendships to better understand deep problems and cultivate creative, enduring solutions.

On Tuesday, September 11th, Joel gave a Community Health & Activism Talk (CHAT) called “Living Off the Land: A day in the life of a subsistence farmer on remote Mfangano Island in Kenya.” This was held at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center. CHAT is a monthly series of talks around matters that are important in health and healthcare delivery. 

$100,000 CAD Stars in Global Health Award to Improve Maternal Health

We are excited to announce the receipt of a $100,000 CAD Stars in Global Health Award to expand our Health Navigation model, funded by Grand Challenges Canada! This 18-month project will strengthen the emergency referral system for mothers and newborns on the remote island of Mfangano by establishing a durable pathway for healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries, and effective referrals. Beginning in April, this project will support community education for mothers, male partners and traditional birth attendants and will help us train 30 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) to serve as “Health Navigators” during critical emergencies. Over the course of this project, we seek to improve maternal and newborn health, demonstrated by:
  • Increase in number of pregnancies with at least 4 ANC visits from 27% at baseline to 70% 
  • Increase in skilled birth attendance from 36% at baseline to 70% 
  • Improved access to emergency obstetric care, indicated by an average time of 120 minutes to reach care from the time symptoms present 
  • 70% births having a follow-up visit within 3 days 
  • Qualitative decrease in patient’s financial concerns caused by obstetric emergencies 
We are thankful for all of you who supported the pilot phase of this project, such as our Rotarian partners in Colorado and the Roaring Fork Valley community, and look forward to the next 18-months of community implementation!
To learn more about Grand Challenges Canada and the Stars in Global Health Program, click here.

Kanyakla Expansion Study is Complete!

Over the past 5 years Organic Health Response-Ekialo Kiona has graduated over 100 “Kanyakla” groups from our innovative HIV microclinic curriculum on Mfangano. After a successful pilot in 2014, OHR designed a Randomized Control Trial to help us better assess the impact of this intervention on retention in HIV care and treatment adherence with “Kanyakla” groups across 4 islands in Mfangano Division. Our staff worked up and down to track 301 participants, and despite study delay due to 2017 election instability, we are excited to announce that data collection is complete!

Kanyakla Program

Glenwood Springs CO helps kick off “Mfangano Tomorrow!”

Co-Founder, Chas Salmen sharing OHR’s vision of a sustainable future for Mfangano Island.

Last week, two long-time supporters of Organic Health Response, Bruce and Jan Shugart, graciously opened their home in Glenwood Springs, CO to help us kick off the 2018 “Mfangano Tomorrow” Capital Campaign! Over the course of the evening, 25 friends and guests came together to learn more about the remote communities of Mfangano Island, Kenya and pitched in to support the vital growth of this community for generations to come. Together, this dedicated group raised over $10,850! 

Big thanks to Bruce and Jan for organizing the event, opening their home and helping OHR to grow our network! We are also grateful for the food provided, the beautiful kitenge bags made by Mfangano craftswoman Elida, and all of the new and old friends who shared the evening with us.

This is the first of many gatherings to support “Mfangano Tomorrow.” Stay tuned to help us secure a sustainable future for Mfangano Island, Kenya.

Guests gather in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Help save our radio this #givingtuesday!

In the spirit of giving thanks this holiday season, help get EK-FM Radio, a beloved community radio station in Mfangano Island, Kenya back on the air! To learn more and donate this #GivingTuesday, visit https://saveourradio.causevox.com/.

EK-FM Radio is a local community radio station that is operated by the Ekialo Kiona (“EK”) Center, in partnership with Organic Health Response, on Mfangano Island in western Kenya.

Sustained by wind and solar power and administered by local youth, EK FM Radio provides a popular and eclectic array of cultural, environmental, and public health programming to over 200,000 listeners along the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa.

The Problem:

In 2017, EK-FM Radio was forced to shut down indefinitely because of permanent hardware damages to the station’s transmitter that were caused by an electrical storm surge. Your donation will help the EK Center purchase an urgently needed FM stereo transmitter and related equipment.

The work of EK FM Radio is more critical than ever.

Radio is by far the dominant and most important mass medium in Africa. Community radio stations have the unique ability to connect isolated communities and disseminate critical information .

EK FM is the only radio station in the region to broadcast in Suba, an ancient Bantu language that came to Mfangano Island with its first inhabitants – Abacunta clans who escaped political persecution in Uganda over 15 generations ago.

Islanders lived in relative isolation until 1954, when a lucrative but invasive species of fish, the Nile perch, was introduced into Lake Victoria’s waters. A commercial fishing boom followed that decimating the region’s marine biodiversity, attracting thousands of workers from every corner of East Africa.

The industry eventually declined after the 1980s, devastating the island’s economy, environment and public health. Today, Mfangano has one of the most HIV-impacted populations on the planet, with a 30% infection rate that is 5 times higher than Kenya’s national average.

Since then, Mfangano Island has also suffered from widespread cultural erosion due to the school language policies and the influx of mainland Kenyans from other regions. Today, Suba is classified as a UNESCO endangered language.

Help us reach our goal of raising $5,000 today! Donate at www.saveourradio.causevox.com.