Kenya - Broader focus needed on health of communities living around refugee camps, says AMREF

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




(2008), "Kenya - Broader focus needed on health of communities living around refugee camps, says AMREF", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 21 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Kenya - Broader focus needed on health of communities living around refugee camps, says AMREF

Article Type: News and views From: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume 21, Issue 3.

Keywords: Basic healthcare needs, Healthcare access, Ill health prevention

As the humanitarian crisis in Kenya continues, activities focusing on those affected have largely shifted from treatment of injuries in hospitals and emergency relief to interventions to assist close to 300,000 people living in 42 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the country.

While care must be given to those living in camps AMREF urges that people still living in the communities around the camps are not forgotten. These are the people and communities that have been caught up in violence and division. Services in these affected communities have in many places broken down and basic health services are not accessible.

Said Mette Kjaer, Country Director of AMREF in Kenya: “While there are over quarter of a million people living in the camps for IDPs, we must look beyond the camps and provide broader support that focuses on the surrounding communities. For example, we know from our work that there are one million people living in Kibera alone. AMREF will work within existing Ministry of Health structures and systems and together with other partners support existing health services, and to ensure that those who presently cannot access care have the opportunity to do so. Women and children are in greatest need of help.”

AMREF’s strategy will be to establish outreach services from static health facilities starting with the Kibera informal settlement. The outreach may be extended to Kawangware, Dagoretti and Baba Dogo in Nairobi, with a focus on the needs of women and children, providing maternal health services, child health, including immunisation, health education, counselling, and HIV and AIDS and TB care and treatment. This is in line with the three-month plan of the Ministry of Health, which gives priority to public health, including preventive and promotive health services, and maternal and child health.

“As chair of the Health NGOs Network in Kenya, AMREF will play a coordinating role and ensure that health-related NGOs responding to the crises operate within the existing Ministry of Health structures both at district and national level. It is crucial that we have a coordinated effort and avoid parallel systems,” said Mette Kjaer.

At the IDP camp at Jamhuri Park, within the city of Nairobi, AMREF is working closely with the Ministry of Health and other partners to provide health and health-related services to refugees at the camp, most of whom are women and children. The park is currently home to 3,000-4,000 internally displaced people.

AMREF’s role at the camp is to coordinate sanitation and hygiene activities ensuring that there are enough toilets and bathrooms and that these are kept clean, provision of water near toilets and eating areas, ensuring the efficient disposal of waste, and providing health education. While partners including MAP, AAR health services and St Johns Ambulance have set up clinics at the camp, and the Ministry of Health has provided personnel and drugs, AMREF is also providing equipment and personnel for laboratory diagnostic services, and will seek to provide drugs as the need arises

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