Kenya: A dramatic increase in AIDS care

In the nearby slum of Kibera, MSF works in several clinics. On 28 April 2005, a new comprehensive care center, jointly run by the ministry of health and MSF, was inaugurated in Nairobi.


The health system suffers from chronic neglect and staff and drug shortages are common, especially in rural areas. As a result, many people die due to a lack of care and treatment. MSF's activities in Kenya are an effort to improve the lives of some of those living with HIV/AIDS. Today, MSF is treating more than 5,600 HIV-positive patients and caring for thousands more.

MSF runs HIV/AIDS-prevention and treatment programs in three parts of the country: Western province, Nyanza province and Nairobi, the capital. In Nairobi, MSF cares for people living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) in the sprawling Mathare slum. Activities include medical consultations, voluntary counseling and testing, nutritional support and medical treatment.

More than half of the people in the MSF program are co-infected with TB. Pregnant women who are HIV-positive receive care to prevent transmission of the virus to their unborn babies. As of April 2005, 2,012 people were participating in the Mathare program, including 837 who were receiving life-extending antiretroviral (ARV) medicines. Each month, the MSF team carries out about 300 HIV tests and detects approximately 20 new TB cases.

In another part of Nairobi, Dagoretti district, MSF is also providing HIV/AIDS care. In the onsite HIV clinic at Mbagathi District Hospital, MSF staff provide free HIV/AIDS services, including ARV therapy. As of April 2005, 4,000 patients were participating in the Mbagathi program, including 1,500 who were receiving ARVs. MSF also develops hospital staff trainings in conjunction with the ministry of health, and is working to improve the quality of the laboratory as well as waste- and drug-management services.

In the nearby slum of Kibera, MSF works in several clinics. On 28 April 2005, a new comprehensive care center, jointly run by the ministry of health and MSF, was inaugurated in Nairobi.

In Western province's Busia district, near the border with Uganda, the HIV prevalence is estimated at 16 percent but may be as high as 30 percent. MSF has established an HIV comprehensive care center at the Busia district hospital and is caring for approximately 3,500 people there in collaboration with local health staff. Of these patients, more than 1,000 are taking ARVs, including 87 children. MSF has established a laboratory to monitor their progress.

In addition, MSF supports nine health facilities across Busia district, one sub-district hospital, one mission hospital, six health centers and one dispensary. Activities include voluntary counseling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and treatment of opportunistic infections such as TB. Two of these health facilities also provide ARVs. To reach patients too weak to come to the health structures, a team of four MSF nurses works closely with more than 140 volunteers to provide home-based care.

MSF staff also run an awareness-raising project with community groups in Busia, actively training people living with AIDS as peer educators and advocates, and carrying out a range of educational activities.

MSF provides HIV/AIDS care in the Homa Bay district of Nyanza province. The organization works in the district hospital as well as in several peripheral health centers, providing voluntary counseling and testing, treatment of opportunistic infections and other services. Follow-up care for stabilized HIV patients is carried out in three health facilities in the district. An average of 100 people have been starting ARV treatment each month, and as of April 2005, 2,330 people were receiving ARVs.

Aid during emergencies

In February 2005, after an estimated 5,000 people were displaced following clashes among ethnic groups in Nairobi, MSF ran mobile health clinics for them and provided blankets and plastic sheeting. MSF also monitors malnutrition and outbreaks of diseases such as cholera.

From September 2004 to March 2005, MSF ran a nutritional project in Marsabit district, Loyangalani province, to combat high rates of malnutrition. MSF closed the project when it was no longer needed. Children in need of further treatment in Marsabit were transferred to other sites.

MSF has worked in Kenya since 1987.