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EXCLUSIVE: Kenyan clinical officer overcomes heart problem to win coveted award in Malaysia

Ms Phyllis Kemunto, the Facility-In-Charge of Jomvu Model Health Center in Mombasa County, was last week awarded the coveted Dr Zaliha Mustafa Award in Leadership and Management during the Global Association of Clinical Officers and Physician Associates (GACOPA) 3rd International Delegates and Scientific Conference, 2023, that was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

She was the only African to receive this award at the event which was presided over by the Malaysian Minister for Health, Honorable Dr Zaliha Mustafa. Speaking to Nairobi News over the weekend, Ms Kemunto said she felt honored and grateful to God for such an opportunity.

“I really acknowledge the support accorded by my family, workmates, the county government of Mombasa –  department of health, Gacopa fraternity, my area Member of Parliament – Hon. Badi Twalib, my mentors Dr. Valentine, Prof Wanja and Esha Yahya, St. Benedict – Holy ghost Cathedral. I also acknowledge the several priests who have always encouraged me to have hope in life,” said Ms Kemunto.

In being considered for this award, she underwent vetting for the contributions she made in her line of duty including ensuring availability and accessibility of quality healthcare services at Jomvu Model Health Center by collaborating with stakeholders including Mombasa Cement, geting a borehole sunk at Jomvu Health Center and launching the ‘Super Thursday’ innovation on improving cervical cancer screening uptake.

Additionally, she was also vetted for her work in championing against gender based violence cases, conflict resolution and Covid-19 services uptake. She also worked to ensure social inclusion for people with disabilities by having staff under her leadership learn sign language- a move that garnered international attention.

With her prolific achievements including mentoring nurses who won the Beyond Zero Award on 2021 and 2023, launching a youth friendly space at Jomvu Health Center that increased health service uptake among them and the launching the Mama-Toto Care initiative that seeks to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality among young mothers, Ms Kemunto added that she hoped her works would be an inspiration to others.

“Despite battling a heart problem, I am an enthusiastic and devoted professional, who is faster in grasping new concepts and new ideas; and can cope in various duties that calls for patience, skills and knowledge application. At all times, I am willing to undertake challenging responsibilities and duties which- in the long run- will foster greater development,” added Ms Kemunto.

She went on, “I hope that by winning this award, it will intensify the provision of the highest attainable standards of quality, responsive and comprehensive healthcare services to the residents of Jomvu through innovative, efficient and effective health systems which can also be emulated by other health facilities.”

Ms Kemunto concluded by saying that it is the little things we do that matter.

Mr Austin Oduor, the Gacopa President, also attended the Malaysian award ceremony and told Nairobi News that the award was a shock to everyone from Kenya.

“The award was a shocker to many of us and as the President of the international association , I am proud of Phyllis, not only because she is Kenyan like me but also because of her zeal, passion and work for the profession. My message to Kenyan clinical officers is that this is the time to arise, shine in the world and showcase the role that we play in the health care systems,” said Mr Oduor.

Gacopa is an international body that brings together clinical officers and physicians from around the world. The organization operates in 35 countries to provide primary and secondary healthcare such as preventive care, diagnosis and treatment of common ailments; and referral to experts.

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