MSF Continues to help Kenyans after the post-election violence

More than a month after a power sharing deal was reached between the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement in Kenya, the make-up of the Cabinet has been agreed upon. In recent weeks the security situation has improved considerably in many parts of the country and MSF teams are planning on phasing out activities in some locations. However, as the long rains are starting and thousands of people are still living in displaced person's camps, either unwilling or unable to go home, MSF medical and logistical staff will continue to assist those affected by the violence, as well as providing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and kala azar treatment and care in long-running projects in the country. 

Continuing to Assist the Displaced

"People want to go home, but a lot of them just don't feel able to. They're still scared and unless a lot more is done in terms of support and security, many of them will stay in these camps," said Donna Canali, Project Coordinator, Eldoret.

Whilst there are no accurate figures, many thousands of people are still living in camps for displaced people scattered around the country. Most of them fled their homes during the violence that followed Kenya's disputed election in December 2007, although some were displaced before that, due to land clashes and outbreaks of violence between different groups. In Eldoret and Molo District, in Rift Valley Province, MSF mobile teams are visiting over 30 different locations providing medical consultations and care. The main complaints are upper respiratory tract infections, intestinal parasites, skin diseases and conjunctivitis.

Near to Kitale, which is also in the Rift Valley, MSF teams have replaced the tents that they built at the end of January in Endebess camp with 800 more robust structures. Although the camp is crowded, the tents provide much better shelter than the plastic sheeting that was originally put up as a temporary measure. Medical activities, such as; a health centre; a network of community health workers; a women's health centre; and mental health counselling, continue in the camp, which is thought to house around 8,500 people.

Responding to the Changing Situation

As many Ministry of Health facilities throughout Kenya are functioning normally now, MSF staff will phase out activities in some locations over the coming weeks. However, as the rainy season starts and there have already been some cases of cholera, teams will continue to monitor the situation and are prepared to respond if necessary. A small MSF team is also doing an assessment in Marsabit District, Eastern Province, where a combination of the post-election political crisis, clashes between different groups, a lack of rains and the absence of assistance has led to concerns about food security.

Treating victims of violence

The calm that has returned to many parts of the country has eluded the Mount Elgon area, in western Kenya bordering Uganda, where long-running land disputes and ethnic clashes have recently spilled over into some parts of the neighbouring Trans Nzoia District. In March, the Kenyan armed forces were deployed in an attempt to stop the violence in the area and to crack down on militia groups operating there. Since then the number of injured civilians has increased greatly, between 10 March and 14 April MSF teams treated 252 victims of intentional trauma in health clinics in the area.

Although the violence in the slums of Nairobi has decreased drastically, the first aid post that MSF set up in Mathare slum continues to see patients on a daily basis. In March medical teams treated 14 direct victims of violence and provided follow up care to a further 275 people.

Ongoing HIV/AIDS, TB and Kala Azar Care

In Nairobi, Busia and Homa Bay, MSF continues to provide HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis care to thousands of people. In Kacheliba, near to the border with Uganda, MSF is treating people infected with visceral leishmaniasis, otherwise known as kala azar.