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Kenya: MSF Ramps Up Presence as Violence Continues
January 9, 2008
Eight additional MSF international staff have arrived in Kenya to help assess and respond to the needs created by the violence and insecurity that have rocked the country since December 29. As well as continuing to provide HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) care in projects in Nairobi and western Kenya, MSF is helping thousands of people who have been displaced during the violence of the last few days.
In Eldoret, a busy transit town in Western Province, MSF staff have begun assisting the estimated 30,000 people who arrived in the city in early January. A team consisting of two doctors, a surgeon, two logisticians, and a nurse are supporting the hospital in Eldoret and helping to distribute non-food items, such as plastic sheeting, blankets, and jerry cans, to people living in camps around the city. Surgical referrals have been done from Burnt Forest to Eldoret. The MSF team is also starting to support three health structures in different settlements in Eldoret and is doing assessments in the surrounding areas such as Moi’s Bridge and Turbo, where the poorest internally displaced seem to be settling.
To the south of Eldoret, in Nakuru and Molo, MSF is also assisting those affected by the insecurity. MSF teams have been working in Molo since early December, providing medical care to people who had been displaced by violent clashes. Since December 29, the number of displaced people in the town has increased greatly, with at least 26 settlements emerging in the rural areas around Kuresoi and Molo. In Molo, MSF is providing non-food items to the displaced. Mobile teams visit the camps and logistical teams ensure that water and sanitation standards are met. As Nakuru Provincial hospital now seems to be running as normal, MSF teams have reduced their activities there, but remain on hand to assist if necessary.
MSF teams have conducted assessments by helicopter in different areas in the west of Kenya where large numbers of displaced people are reported to have fled. As of January 9, assessments have been done in Kericho, Ikonge, Longani, Kisi, Kisumu, Migori, Narok, Kapsokweni, Muhoroni, Koru, and Nandi Hills. These assessments are to continue until the end of the week, as the situation is changing rapidly and needs to be closely monitored to ensure that MSF can respond to the ongoing medical needs.
The insecurity in the country’s capital meant that some of MSF’s HIV/AIDS clinics in Nairobi’s slums were forced to close for a few days. However, the clinics are now resuming normal activities. After some disruption, Kibera South Health Centre—one of MSF’s three health clinics in the Kibera slum of Nairobi—was able to reopen on December 31. In the first two days of reopening, MSF staff treated 62 patients, over half of whom had been wounded during the violence. As the situation in Nairobi has become a little calmer, the number of people coming to the clinics has increased. On January 8, 280 consultations were done in Kibera South Health Centre and 250 consultations were done at Mbagathi District Hospital where MSF provides comprehensive HIV/AIDS care. Teams hope to be able to reopen MSF’s other two HIV/AIDS clinics in Kibera in the coming days.
In Mathare, a slum on the eastern outskirts of Nairobi, MSF staff were able to go back to work on the first of January. Initially, the teams treated 19 emergency cases, some of whom had been wounded during the violence. In the past few days, more of MSF’s HIV/AIDS and TB patients have been able to return to the clinic to receive treatment. On January 8, 200 consultations were done, 160 for people living with HIV/AIDS and 40 for people receiving TB treatment.
Projects in Busia and Homa Bay, in the west of Kenya, are now starting to run as normal. In Busia, in addition to providing HIV/AIDS care, MSF teams are also providing clean water, blankets, and plastic sheeting to displaced people who have sought shelter near the police station in the town.
In all MSF’s HIV/AIDS and TB projects, teams are seeing a number of patients who lost their antiretroviral or TB drugs during the insecurity of the last few days. Staff are also treating patients who cannot get their drugs, as the clinics that they normally go to are closed. Although most clinics now seem to be reopening, MSF is very concerned about these patients and the interruption of their treatment.