Dr Isaack Abdi, a Medical Officer, Isiolo County Referral Hospital
When Dr Isaack Abdi got sick as a child, his mother would take him to a local district hospital for treatment. Little did he know that the frequent visits to Moyale District Hospital would ignite in him a passion for medicine.
“I was interested in becoming a doctor from an early age because of the frequent interactions with nurses and doctors who would restore my health whenever I was taken ill at Moyale District Hospital. This shaped my career choice. It was a no-brainer that I would pursue a career in medicine, where I felt I would make the greatest contribution to humanity."
Moyale is a small and sparsely populated township in the northern border of Kenya. It is the main link between Kenya and Ethiopia but has limited resources in terms of healthcare provision. However, this did not deter Dr Abdi to pursue his dreams.
“I was the top student during my primary school examinations in 1999, and went to Alliance High School, a top national secondary school in the country. I finished high school with Grade A and joined the University of Nairobi in 2006 to pursue my medical degree."
After his internship at Kenyatta National Hospital where he gained his clinical experience, Dr Abdi was posted to Isiolo County Referral Hospital as a Medical Officer in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Surgery department. He encountered a lot of challenges. The hospital was ill equipped with diagnostic equipment especially for cancer patients.
“At this point, I realized that I needed to further my medical education in diagnostic management services and after my studies, bring back the knowledge and expertise closer to my people. I applied to AKU to pursue a Masters in Anatomic Pathology where I was accepted on my first attempt."
Anatomic Pathology is a medical specialty that entails the study of body organs and tissues to determine the causes and effects of diseases within humans. The study is primarily centered on the proper diagnosis of various diseases.
“The four-year residency programme at AKU was probably the best time in my professional life. It was my first encounter with a properly functioning healthcare system, where everything I needed during my day-to-day learning was readily available. I also had very close interaction with the faculty. The environment was very conducive, and the professional courses on ethics also improved my knowledge in dealing with complex situations when interacting with patients."
Dr Abdi graduated in February 2022 and went back to Isiolo County Referral Hospital. His first assignment was to meet the hospital management and sensitize them on the importance of strengthening the lab department. Dr Abdi also advised them to set up histopathology and cytology services to support the surgical department.
“The reception so far has been good, but we are yet to set up a fully-fledged diagnostics unit. In the meantime, I am working with what I have, including linking the County hospital to a nearby private lab facility offering histopathology and cytology services at subsidized rates for patients, which has reduced the turn-around time for timely diagnosis and management services."
Away from medicine, Dr Abdi likes spending time with his family, traveling, and exploring new destinations across the country. He also loves swimming, playing tennis, and enjoying nature walks.
“I would like to do a fellowship in dermatopathology, bone and soft-tissue pathology. I see myself as a key link in patient management without which complex diseases such as cancer cannot be properly diagnosed especially in this part of the country. I am motivated by the difference I can make in the timely diagnosis and management of the patients that I serve daily."
Dr Abdi has a dream to set up a fully-fledged diagnostic centre serving the marginalized communities in the upper Eastern and Northern parts of Kenya.