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MSF in Kenya, 2006/2007
Field Staff: 517
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The primary focus of MSF in Kenya is on treatment for people with HIV/ AIDS. In projects in the slums of Nairobi and in the rural areas of Busia and Homa Bay, MSF provides more than 12,000 people with anti-retroviral treatment (ART). Increasing emphasis is also being placed on an emerging and drug-resistant form of tuberculosis (TB).
Homa Bay, located in the western Nyanza province, was MSF’s first HIV/AIDS program in Kenya, opening in 1996. With an HIV prevalence of approximately 35 percent, the densely populated Victoria lakeshore is one of the worst affected areas in the country. Initially focusing on TB and on reducing HIV transmission through health facilities, free ART was first introduced in 2001.
In July 2007, 4,741 people are under care, with 3,567 of those receiving ART. With a planned merger of MSF and Kenyan Ministry of Health (MoH) activities, and the opening of three more HIV health facilities on the periphery of Homa Bay, this figure will continue to rise. MSF also provides resources and technical assistance in the piloting of a one-stop service for people with TB/HIV co-infection, including the development of the third TB culture laboratory in the country.
In Busia District, situated on the Kenyan border with Uganda, MSF runs an HIV/AIDS project in the main district hospital and nine rural health centers. In addition to the clinical services within these facilities, the project provides a system of home-based care, utilizing over 140 volunteer community health workers and running an information and education program that targets people living with HIV/AIDS and community groups. It is estimated that over 10,000 people from the district are in urgent need of treatment. The project began providing ART in July 2003 and treats 1,850 patients, 140 of them children.
In 2007 MSF is handing over three ART sites to a development partner and supporting the MoH in establishing two more in health centers, increasing the access to treatment and prevention of mother-to-child transmission in the most remote and highest HIV prevalence locations of Busia district. In Nairobi, MSF also provides comprehensive HIV/AIDS care in the Mbagathi District Hospital. In early 2005, MSF built a clinic on the hospital grounds, allowing integration of the comprehensive MSF and MoH HIV/AIDS activities. Now more than 3,314 patients receive ART, with a further 811 being followed. MSF is gradually handing over this project to the MoH.
Linked closely with Mbagathi hospital in the sprawling Kibera slum, MSF runs a project that integrates HIV/AIDS and TB into primary healthcare in three clinics. A focus of this program is the empowerment of people and communities living with the virus. Covering both Mbagathi Hospital and the slum, which has a population of over 600,000, MSF treats 4,744 people with ART and provided approximately 103,000 consultations in 2006/2007.
In Mathare, a second slum with a population of over 300,000 on the eastern outskirts of Nairobi, MSF runs a project known as the “Blue House,” located in a renovated old hotel building. The project offers free comprehensive treatment for HIV/AIDS and with a co-infection level of approximately 70 percent, MSF also treats patients with TB. In late 2006, an extension was added to the clinic to treat increasing numbers of patients with multi drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), an emerging strain of the disease that cannot be cured with firstline TB drugs.
The number of affected people continues to rise in slum conditions that create a perfect breeding ground for the spread of the disease. Approximately 2,751 people living with HIV/ AIDS are under care and the clinic is testing approximately 300 people per month for HIV. MSF also provides many of its patients with health support in the form of key nutritional supplements.
New project in Kacheliba
In late 2006, MSF opened a new program in the small town of Kacheliba in the West Pokot region of Kenya, treating visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala azar – a Sanskrit term meaning ‘black fever.’ Leishmaniases are parasitic diseases that principally affect poor communities in isolated regions, often in devastating epidemics.
Floods, fever and refugee needs MSF continues to respond to emergencies in Kenya. In late 2006, MSF reacted to floods that struck the Somali refugee camps in the border area of Dadaab, providing medical care to residents and refugees. At the beginning of 2007, MSF responded to an outbreak of the Rift Valley Fever virus, and in April teams set up medical clinics on both sides of the lines of conflict after clashes erupted between two rival ethnic groups by Mount Elgon, in the west of Kenya.
MSF has worked in Kenya since 1987.