- About Us
- Our Work
- Work With MSF
- Public Events
- Press Room
MSF in Kenya, 2008
Field Staff: 659
Reason for Intervention:
All articles on Kenya »
At the beginning of 2008, disputes over Kenya’s presidential election sparked two months of violence, leaving more than 1,000 people dead and, according to the Kenyan Red Cross, as many as 300,000 displaced. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical staff, who normally focus on providing treatment to thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) in the capital, Nairobi, and in western Kenya, were on hand to respond.
Emergency medical care was provided to the victims of violence. Mobile clinics for Kenyans fleeing violence in their communities were also established and activities started in some camps for people who had fled their homes. MSF reinforced its teams on the ground with extra surgeons, emergency physicians, nurses, and logistical specialists.
The violent protests and clashes that erupted throughout Kenya during the crisis left hundreds injured. In Nairobi, teams adapted long-running HIV/AIDS projects to provide basic first aid for the victims. Because many people were unable to move, MSF sent ambulances around the slums to assist the injured. For the most-seriously injured, a referral system was set up involving both public and private hospitals.
In early January an MSF surgical team worked in Eldoret and Nakuru hospitals to help treat victims of violence, many of whom had machete wounds or burns. Later in the same month, MSF teams supported Kenyan Ministry of Health staff as violent clashes erupted in Nakuru and Naivasha, two popular tourist destinations close to Nairobi. In Nakuru MSF teams helped treat more than 150 wounded patients in two days.
The violence prompted thousands of people to flee their homes. The Rift Valley region was particularly badly affected. Many people sought refuge in large sites such as stadiums and showgrounds. In a number of sites that housed thousands of displaced people, including Eldoret, Nakuru, and Kitale, MSF teams provided medical care and relief supplies. Other Kenyans sought protection at police stations, prisons and churches or stayed in small groups in remote areas. In parts of the country people moved around regularly, so sites that were once filled with people were empty just a few days later. Faced with such a mobile population, MSF had to be flexible in its response. Medical teams traveled to numerous different locations in the Rift Valley every week to provide care to those with little or no aid.
Mount Elgon displaced
As the political situation stabilized towards the end of February, MSF gradually phased out its emergency response. Yet activities continued in the Mount Elgon region of western Kenya where tens of thousands of people had been displaced by the violence that started in August 2006. Trapped between a number of different warring parties, people living in the Mount Elgon region were struggling to survive. MSF first started providing assistance in the region in April 2007, focusing on primary and mental health care, referrals, and the distribution of non-food items such as blankets.
In 2008 more than 23,000 outpatient consultations were provided, including nearly 1,600 antenatal consultations. MSF also treated 110 victims of sexual violence and 349 patients suffering from violent trauma wounds. By the end of the year, as the security situation improved, MSF was able to hand over its activities to the Ministry of Health.
For many years MSF teams in Nairobi and the Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley provinces of Kenya have provided specialized care for people suffering from chronic and neglected diseases.
By the end of 2008, more than 18,600 people living with HIV/AIDS were cared for in MSF projects, and 14,000 were receiving life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. In projects in the capital’s slums of Mathare and Kibera as well as in the rural areas of Busia and Homa Bay, MSF staff tested 17,250 people for HIV/AIDS. In the Pokot region of northwestern Kenya, medical teams tested more than 1,700 people for the deadly disease kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis) and treated some 640 patients.
MSF has worked in Kenya since 1987.