Situated on the equator on Africa's east coast, Kenya has been described as "the cradle of humanity".

Map of MSF's activities in Kenya, 2015It has a population of around 45 million people.

Kenya was shaken by inter-ethnic violence which followed disputed elections in 2007. However, the next elections in 2013, passed off without violence and resulted in victory for Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of independence leader Jomo Kenyatta.

Kenya's military entered Somalia in October 2011 to curb the threat of the Islamist militant Al-Shabab movement, which it accused of the kidnap and killing of tourists and aid workers.

Since 2013 Al-Shabab has launched an increasingly deadly series of reprisal attacks in Kenya itself.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Kenya in 1987. Our work in the country has provided responses to endemic/epidemic disease and healthcare exclusion.

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MSF’s work in Kenya: 2015

MSF continues to respond to the medical needs of some of Kenya’s most vulnerable people: inhabitants of slum settlements and refugee camps, patients with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) and victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

Dadaab refugee camps

Dadaab is the world’s largest long-term refugee settlement, made up of five camps, which are home to some 345,000 refugees, mostly Somalis.

As a result of an agreement signed by the UN Refugee Agency and the governments of Kenya and Somalia in 2013, Somalian refugees are being urged to return home voluntarily. However, very few refugees are making this choice and they remain in Dadaab, where funding for humanitarian assistance continues to decrease.

Although MSF has not been able to have a permanent international presence there since 2011 due to insecurity, staff have continued to work in the 100-bed hospital in Dagahaley camp and at four health posts, providing outpatient and mental health consultations, surgery, and antenatal, HIV and TB care.

HIV/AIDS and TB care

In Ndhiwa, western Kenya, an estimated 24 percent of adults are HIV positive, and the number of people infected has been increasing annually. In mid-2014, MSF began a four-year programme aimed at reducing the number of new HIV infections, treating people living with HIV and reducing mortality rates.

Providing healthcare in Nairobi

Sexual and gender-based violence is under-reported in Kenya, and it is hard to find dedicated healthcare in public clinics and hospitals. In the Eastlands slums, MSF continued its programme at Lavender House clinic. Victims of sexual and gender-based violence have access to a 24-hour hotline and ambulance pick-ups.

They also receive treatment for physical injuries, prophylactics to prevent transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, a pregnancy test when relevant and psychological counselling. In 2015, more than half of the 2,429 people treated at the clinic were aged under 18, and a quarter of those were younger than 12.

In Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, MSF provides comprehensive basic healthcare, as well as treatment for HIV, TB and non-communicable diseases, to the 240,000 inhabitants through two clinics.

 In 2015, teams carried out 132,500 consultations, and assisted 2,469 deliveries in the maternity ward in Kibera South. 

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Responding to a cholera outbreak

MSF supported the Ministry of Health’s response to a massive cholera outbreak in 2015. In Nairobi, teams set up cholera treatment units (CTUs) and over 570 patients were also treated at a CTU in Dagahaley refugee camp. By the end of the year, MSF had supported 47 facilities in 17 counties and had provided care to more than 8,300 patients.

Garissa university attack

In April, Al Shabab militants stormed a university in northeastern Kenya. Over 100 people were killed in the incident, most of them students. An MSF team treated survivors of the attack, including more than 70 with gunshot and blast wounds, and people who had sustained cuts from shattered glass.

MSF provided medical consultations, food and water at Garissa airport, where around 300 evacuated students spent the night.

find out more in our international activity report

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