This girl who was suffering from Lupus looked me in the eye and told me, “Doctor I’m dying.” Being a young doctor, somewhat naive and with the mentality that I could conquer anything, I told her she was not going to die, we would take good care of her. No sooner had I finished saying this than she collapsed. We tried to resuscitate her for hours, but she didn’t come back. I vowed never to make a promise I couldn’t keep.
This is why I decided to be a Paediatric Rheumatologist, so that should I ever meet a child with Lupus again, I will be in a position to do my best. Even though we know ultimately and fundamentally, we will all go through the journey of death without exception, but what matters is the kind of legacy we leave behind.So I wanted to empower myself with skills and knowledge to be the best I can be for these children.
I am Doctor Angela Migowa. I have a Bachelors degree in Medicine and Surgery, a Masters in Paediatrics and Child Health and a third degree in Paediatric Rheumatology. I am also an Assistant Professor at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Kenya. I am 36 years old.
Rheumatology is the discipline of medicine that looks at all the diseases that affect all connective tissue. People often think arthritis is the only rheumatological disease, but there are others like Lupus, Osteo-Arthritis, Lower Back Pain, Dermatomyositis and Behcet’s disease.
There are many doctors who specialize in adult rheumatology, but very few pediatric rheumatologists, especially in Africa. As it stands now we are 13 in Africa. About six in South Africa, about four in North Africa, in Eastern Africa about two and there’s one who just completed her training. She will be going to Ghana.
It’s funny that I never thought about it until my graduation day when my younger brother told me, “You know Angie you are the first black African woman to be a paediatric rheumatologist.” First African Black Woman!! I never really thought about it. There are some of my colleagues who say North of River Limpopo, South of the Sahara, I am the only female paediatric rheumatologist.
The eye only sees what the mind knows, so for a very long time rheumatological diseases were thought to afflict only old people because many people perceived them as degenerative. But there’s evidence out there, from way back, which shows that children are also affected.
Another issue that makes rheumatological diseases go undetected in children is lack of awareness and this makes families suffer. Many families are breaking up because there is a vacuum of understanding regarding this condition. They come up with theories such as so and so looked at this child with a bad eye. Therefore, parents or relatives often blame each other for the perceived bad luck that has befallen their child.