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MSF in Kenya, 2002
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Antiretrovirals prolong life in Homa Bay
The AIDS epidemic continues its disastrous assault in Kenya. About 2.3 million Kenyans live with the disease, and an estimated 500 people die daily from AIDS-related infections. In addition to providing medical care – and now antiretroviral (ARV) treatment – for people with AIDS, MSF is pushing for accessible treatment options for AIDS and other diseases. Although some positive steps have been taken, the crisis is far from receiving adequate government response.
In late 2001, MSF began ARV treatment at the hospital in Homa Bay in Nyanza province, where about 35% of the adult population is infected with HIV. Around 240 will be under treatment by fall 2002. This project shows the effectiveness of ARV treatment in rural and resource-poor settings, and is one of several MSF ARV programs around the world. MSF also trains medical staff and works to improve treatment of opportunistic infections in AIDS patients. One of the most common such infections is tuberculosis (TB), and in the Homa Bay hospital and 27 local health centers MSF works with Kenya's national TB program to treat 1,500 patients and improve TB diagnosis and follow-up.
In Busia, in Western province, MSF carries out HIV/AIDS testing, treatment and home-based care, as well as TB treatment. MSF has also embarked on an extensive grassroots effort, eliciting the support of parents, village elders, religious leaders and others to encourage prevention of HIV/AIDS through the formation of school-based anti- AIDS clubs.
AIDS prevention, testing, care and training are also the focus at Mbagathi hospital in the capital Nairobi and in the city's slums of Kibera, Dandora and Mathare. In these areas, health workers provide both primary health care and AIDS-related care to thousands of people each month.
MSF has been assisting refugees in Kenya for many years. In May 2002, when several thousand Somalis fled fighting in southern Somalia for refuge near Mandera, MSF reopened one of its area feeding centers. With the Somalis confined to a dangerous area near the border, MSF asked the authorities to move them to safer areas.
In eastern Kenya, near Dadaab, MSF provides medical care and nutritional support to Somali refugees in three camps. Around 300 patients are also treated for TB. In March 2002, MSF began to train local staff and treat and diagnose the deadly parasitic disease kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), which has recently surfaced in the area.
MSF has been working in Kenya since 1987.