Medical volunteering on the Kenyan coast

Kenya (K6) | View map
£197 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
1 month

Volunteer in a medical clinic and community hospital on the Indian ocean

  • Volunteer and get experience of healthcare in rural Kenya
  • Combined experience working in a clinic and a hospital, plus occasional outreach work
  • Suitable for medical and vocational students wanting experience in healthcare and knowledge of regional health issues
  • A wonderful setting on the Indian ocean for your African adventure
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Project summary

This is a unique opportunity for a volunteer wanting experience of community healthcare provision, providing access to two different facilities in a combined volunteer placement.

The first is a small clinic addressing the medical needs of the local community. It runs a daily GP clinic and undertakes additional services such HIV testing and monitoring, cervical cancer screening, some physiotherapy, antenatal and maternity services. There is some residential capacity, an emergency ward, pharmacy and a host of other services associated with a community clinic. There are also counselling offices, particularly for HIV and Aids patients.

Occasionally, depending on the availability of resources, there are outreach visits to local villages. This provides an opportunity to treat people who cannot make it to the clinic, and children and older members of the community for whom seeking treatment would not normally be afforded by families.

As the cost of treatment and medical in Kenya is high relative to income many people present with medical issues and complications at a late stage. There are also easily preventable illnesses that have not been treated due to lack of money.

The second opportunity is to volunteer at the small hospital in Watamu. This is privately funded by the local community, and by the hotels and businesses who use it to provide healthcare services to their clients and employees. It is also the hospital that would be the first point of service for any volunteers requiring medical support.

It is a small hospital with two residential wards, a laboratory, X-ray department and even the basis for an operating theatre, although that is not yet operational. It also acts as a GP clinic treating a range of ailments endemic to the region.

Volunteers can support the doctors and staff in their range of duties across all departments, and provide practical support wherever appropriate.

Volunteers would balance their time across the two facilities according to the schedules and workloads of each, thereby providing the maximum level of support at peak times.

This opportunity is most suited to those students thinking of going to medical school or into nursing, or those in their training who are looking for applied experience.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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Your role as a medical volunteer will be determined in part by your experience and specified areas of interest, and in part by the weekly cycles of clinics offered and the flow of patients. You will discuss this with the leaders of each project when you arrive.

Volunteers can provide help when required in the clinics offered including antenatal healthcare, basic emergency obstetric care, community outreach work, family planning, infant growth monitoring and health promotion, HIV counselling/prevention of mother to child transmission, immunization and tuberculosis treatments, as well as general nursing and administrative duties.

A HIV awareness programme runs occasional community outreach programmes. Most people have been tested and around 7% of the population have HIV. You can help with the registration of people living with HIV/AIDs and the treatment they receive. You may be asked to help in the dispensary giving antiretroviral drugs to patients living with HIV/AIDs.

There may be the opportunity to participate in outreach visits to the surrounding community, dependent on availability.

How you can make a difference

In this regulated and professional environment it is not expected that volunteers provide professionals skills and experience, or fill significant gaps in staffing levels.

Rather volunteers are positively welcomed for the interest they demonstrate, the energy they generate in the clinics and the mutual cultural experience that is shared.

Volunteers do provide an extra pair of hands for a range of duties, but all parties recognise volunteer participation brings broader benefits to those involved.

What is distinctive about this project:

A rare opportunity to combine two types of healthcare provision in one medical volunteering placement, all in one fabulous location. The clinic addresses the needs of a substantial population.  A lot of issues start as minor injuries that have been presented late because of affordability of treatments, plus there are local parasites and infections which qualify as tropical diseases. This provides a diverse learning opportunity for medical volunteers.

Blue Tiger Features:

This is an excellent project that offers a breadth of insight to volunteers wanting to gain medical experience, and experience of Kenyan health care services.

Volunteers will need to be flexible in their approach to the clinic and hospital. There are big cultural differences in the general approach to work schedules, roles and activity, which the volunteer must adapt to and work within.


This project is open all year round.


English is widely spoken throughout Watamu and Kenya generally.

Experience required:

This project is suited to those volunteers who are studying, part qualified or newly qualified medical staff, or those with no current experience but with serious ambitions to go into healthcare.

Working in a clinic / hospital means you will be exposed to a variety of medical conditions and so you should be confident in your ability to work in such conditions.

Good to know:

Watamu is part of a United Nations Biosphere Reserve and is an area of great natural beauty. There are miles of beautiful beaches with safe swimming. The coral reef is rich in marine fauna and flora and offers excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. The volunteer’s accommodation is in a private compound that maintains the high level of security normally expected in the more affluent areas.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers), a good standard of accommodation (typically with a pool), airport transfers, placement fee and full pre-trip and in-country support.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations, daily transport to projects (allow £1.50 per day) and food (allow £4 per day when buying in local markets)
NOTE: Lessons in Swahili can be arranged at an extra cost.

Things to see and do

  • Go safari
  • Mount Kenya
  • Elephant Orphanage
  • Giraffe Sanctuary
Wanjiru Macharia (Shiru)

Country co-ordinator

Wanjiru Macharia (Shiru)

Shiru graduated from the University of Amherst, USA with a Major in Marketing and a Minor in Psychology. She joined our team in 2012 and lives with her family near where our projects are based in the coastal town of Watamu. She knows Kenya intimately and has been involved in a number of conservation initiatives in the national parks. In addition to supporting our volunteers she works as an administrator in a busy office that share the grounds of our volunteer house.

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