AMREF – Responding to crisis: Lessons from Kenya’s silent emergency

Responding to crisis: Lessons from Kenya’s silent emergency


AMREF’s Deputy-Director General, Dr Florence Muli-Musiime has warned that emergency institutions, both local and international, risk misdirecting their humanitarian crisis response if they are not sensitive to community dynamics that are not always visible in times of upheaval. In a powerful message to hundreds of delegates at the 35th Global Health Council Conference taking place in Washington DC, Dr Muli-Musiime described a ‘silent emergency’ that nobody spoke about following the post-election violence in Kenya, whose implications for healing and recovery has more serious implications for post-conflict health and social development than the more widely publicised plight of internally displaced people in the country.

‘When the crisis broke out,’ she said, ‘the focus of the health system was to mitigate the physical injuries, while that of the donor community and emergency institutions was on the Internally Displaced People. But we realised that there was a silent emergency which none of the two groups was looking at – that of thousands of people who were caught up in their own homes, unable to go to IDP camps because they would have had to go through hostile territory to get there, and unable to access health or any other basic services. To make matters worse, they were physically assaulted and sexually abused in their own homes.’

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KENYA: ARV programmes slowly recovering from post-election crisis

KENYA: ARV programmes slowly recovering from post-election crisis


Photo: Manoocher DEGHATI/IRIN
AMPATH has opened a satellite centre in the Nakuru Showground IDP camp where patients can receive ARVs

ELDORET, 28 April 2008 (PlusNews) – Thousands of Kenyans who dropped out of HIV treatment programmes in January as a result of the country’s post-election violence are gradually returning to clinics and the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that help prolong their lives.

“Initially more than 90 percent of our patients failed to come for their monthly appointments during which they collect their drugs, but now they are returning slowly,” said Cleophas Chesoli, social work manager for the Academic Model for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV (AMPATH), a research institution linked to Moi University in western Kenya’s Rift Valley town of Eldoret.

At the height of the crisis, AMPATH placed national announcements in the newspapers and on the radio advising clients on the nearest available health facility where they could get ARVs. AMPATH has 67,000 clients, with an estimated 30,000 on treatment; although it is still unclear how many patients missed their doses, Chesoli is hopeful that the chances of patients developing resistance are low.

“We generally give patients as much as six weeks’ worth of medication because many of our patents may not make their monthly consultations due to lack of transport or bus fare, or distance for the nearest centre,” he said.
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