DR. NJOM VICTOR, THE SOLDIER OPHTHALMOLOGIST
Name: Dr. Njom Victor Miganda; MBChB Mmed (ophthalmology) UON
Occupation: Consultant ophthalmologist
Current employer: Maseno University
Current residence: Riat, Kisumu
Private Practice: OPTIK EYE CENTRE, Kisumu
“Dr. Njom makes ophthalmology look so simple and very interesting,” Said Fauna to theDoctor, “actually now I think I want to specialize in ophthalmology after my undergraduate.”
Fauna is one of Dr. Njom’s ophthalmology students in Maseno university, the class had barely had five classes with the experienced ophthalmologist when she made the comment. Such level of instant inspiration is very rare and that is why theDoctor sought out Dr. Njom and had a chat with him to prepare this one on one exclusive interaction.
We met Dr. Njom in his Kisumu CBD clinic along Oginga Odinga street just next to Imperial Express Hotel opposite Toyota Kenya Yard.
Inside, the small but very eye catching clinic speaks for itself, “an Eye Centre.” His corner office is spectacularly planned with eye images and art decorating the walls. His tools of trade are well kept and cared for with absolute passion.
theDoctor: this is a nice office you’ve got.
Dr. Njom: thank you, it’s actually still quite new, barely a month old now.
theDoctor: the whole of it?
Dr. Njom: No, not the entire practice, the optical wing has been here for quite some time, it’s only the ophthalmology part that is new, I joined them in June 2018.
theDoctor: ooh! So who deals with the optical part?
Dr. Njom: My colleague here is an optician called Ms. Avni initially I was going to open my own practice in insurance Plaza but I thought it would be less hectic to join an already existing optical center than to start another one from scratch.
theDoctor: I see, so you guys complement each other…
Dr. Njom: yes, we do. She refers her patients to me, right next door and I refer mine, those who need glasses, to her. Plus, we avoid creating unnecessary competition by starting my own optic center.
theDoctor: so how’s the new business coming along?
Dr. Njom: It’s not bad, so far. But you know it is still new but we are picking up slowly.
theDoctor: You’re quite new in town, right?
Dr. Njom: Yes. I have been here for a very short time. I just came in late last year.
theDoctor: Where were you before Kisumu?
Dr. Njom: I was in the Coast, I have been working at the Coast General Hospital since I finished my Mmed in ophthalmology, in 2006.
theDoctor: So you came all the way across the whole country!
Dr. Njom: (laughing) Yes. Maseno came to look for me like the prodigal son (laughing). But actually, I Met with Dr. Jules Etabale in Nairobi and he told me Maseno were looking for an ophthalmologist.so I went and thought about it and decided, why not!
theDoctor: Welcome to Maseno. How is it?
Dr. Njom: Thank you, so far been good, you get some time to do other things and also a change of environment is quite healthy, you know.
theDoctor: so how does the practice differ between Kisumu and Coast?
Dr. Njom: In terms of the practice, not much difference, I mean the clinical conditions are basically the same although Kisumu has a slower economy.
theDoctor: Where else do you work besides your clinic in town?
Dr. Njom: Well, I’m a lecturer at Maseno, so I do Ophthalmology clinics at JOOTRH every Wednesday, and I also have rights in all the major private hospitals in Kisumu: Avenue, Agha Khan etc.
theDoctor: So, daktari, please tell me about your childhood.
Dr. Njom: Well, I was born in 1974 and grew up in the Barracks.
theDoctor: Wow! The army?
Dr. Njom: Yes, in Kahawa army barracks, I attended primary school in Moi Forces Academy and finished in1988. Then it was purely meant for army families but later when I was in class 6 they started admitting civilian children too.
theDoctor: how was that like? Growing up in an army base?
Dr. Njom: It was ok. I really enjoyed my childhood. And it shaped my career choice, somehow. Even as I went to high school in Starehe under Dr. William Griffin, I always knew that I wanted to join the army. In fact, I was sure that I was going to join the army, even throughout med school in UON.
theDoctor: Then what happened?
Dr. Njom: I simply had a change of heart at the very last minute, during my internships. I just changed my mind and that was it. I dropped my entire life plan.
theDoctor: how was medical school
Dr. Njom: it was ok. You know back then when I joined in 1994, it was just UON and Moi university was just starting, so UON used to take only 80 students. It was hard as it always is, but we copped and graduated in 2000 with the likes of Dr. Tobias, Dr. Immaculate Opondo and Dr. Edwin Oduor
theDoctor: millennial doctors…
Dr. Njom: (laughing) Yes, we were so worried and disappointed at the same time. I mean, after all that struggle through med school, the world was going to end just like that! They really scared us. (laughing)
theDoctor: where did you go for internship?
Dr. Njom: Rift valley. I was posted to the Nakuru PGH for internship. We were there with the likes of Dr. Mitei. Latter, I was posted to Olenguruone Hospital. I was the first doctor to be posted there.
theDoctor: the first, how come?
Dr. Njom: people didn’t want to go there, there were so many tribal clashes occurring in that area, so people used to be posted but they never reported. But I went.
theDoctor: Army guy, huh!
Dr. Njom: yes! (Laughing). It was a very good hospital by the way, it was politically privileged back then, so it had great equipment, it had a very nice theatre but there was no doctor. So when I got there at least those women stopped going all the way to Nakuru for C-sections.
theDoctor: how long did you work there?
Dr. Njom: About two years, before moving back to Nakuru PGH where I worked for a short while before going back to UON for my ophthalmology Mmed in 2003.
theDoctor: did you always want to do ophthalmology?
Dr. Njom: No, not ever. I had never even imagined it. Not until when I went back to Nakuru PGH when I met the ophthalmologist there; Dr. Mathenge Wanjiku.
theDoctor: So Dr. Mathenge lured you into ophthalmology!
Dr. Njom: Not really luring, but I was just inspired, mentored and challenged to do something new. You see all my Mo practice; I had been doing Obstetrics. So I had developed quite an interest and had decided that I was going to do OB/GYN for masters.
So while in theater I used to see the theater list for ophthalmology and it used to awe me because they were totally new things. So I stated interacting with Dr. Mathenge and it was from there that I decide I had done enough of obstetrics and I wanted to do something new. So with all that mentorship from her I decided, ophthalmology, it was and it is.
theDoctor: Wow! She must be very proud. Have you mentored some yourself?
Dr. Njom: Yes, while at Coast General I mentored about 3 MOs: one is teaching in UONand the other two are doing their ophthalmology MMed in various universities.
theDoctor: So how did you find yourself at the coast?
Dr. Njom: After my Mmed I thought I was going to be posted back to the Rift Valley. But to my surprise I was sent to the Coast and there I found myself as the only ophthalmologists, the others were both retiring.
I worked there for all those years, I was the head of the ophthalmology department, I was the deputy director in charge of clinical services. Before Maseno came fishing and caught me. And here we are.
theDoctor: What’s the future for you? Where would you like to be in another 5 -10 years
theDoctor: tell me a little about your Family
Dr. Njom: Well, I am married, my wife is a Nurse and we have three amazing girls. The first born is in form 3, the second Born is in class 7 and the youngest is joining class one next year.
theDoctor: Are they in Kisumu?
Dr. Njom: No they are in Nairobi. My wife works in Kenyatta and my daughters school there too. But I am planning to move them to Kisumu soon. Closer to my Rural home, in Bondo.
theDoctor: Congratulations on such an amazing family. What do you do when you’re not dealing with eyes?
Dr. Njom: Thank you. I like sports a lot, I used to play football a lot, though nowadays, I don’t. In campus I was the captain of the med school team. I also love cycling and I travel a lot. I’ve gone to almost all parts of this country.
theDoctor’s Chat with Dr. Njom was a very lively one as he proved to be an easy to talk to and jovial man. We hope that he inspires and mentors many young doctors to join ophthalmology and help curb the current shortage. There are barely 100 of them in the country and Dr. Njom hopes that this number will increase soon.
theDoctor welcomes him to the Lake City of Kisumu and wished him all the best in his endeavors.