Violence in many parts of the country erupted following the general election on 27th December 2007. Although the riots and violence were triggered by political disagreements, it soon took very strong ethnic dimensions which spiralled into revenge-based ethnic clashes, displacements and many deaths. The initial estimates from the UN and Government indicated that over 500,000 people had been affected by the skirmishes, including those that are hosting displaced persons, or had their livelihood destroyed. The number of people affected and displaced is growing each day. Recent records of the Kenya Red Cross have identified over 304,000 IDPs. In makeshift IDP camps and over 1,000 dead at the flash points around Nairobi, Western Kenya, the Rift valley, Coast and Nyanza provinces. Women and children form 75% of the IDP population.
Status of Health Services
The entire health sector in the country has been affected in the flash points. There is disruption in coordination and delivery of services. In the areas of highest tension, the lack of security has further compromised the availability of adequate number of health staff. Some health workers have also been displaced and many in the most affected areas are too afraid to report to duty. As a result, 30% of the health facilities are not functioning. This disruption in the health system is affecting routine health care delivery and emergency care services. Already there are reports of patients on Anti-Retroviral Therapy for HIV and Tuberculosis treatment being unable to access their drugs. To address the needs of the IDP camps and host communities, mobile clinics and outreach services have been established.
The IDP camps are congested and availability of basic social needs fall far below internationally accepted standards. There were also increasing cases of gender based violence. The top three causes of morbidity and mortality were Acute Respiratory tract infections, malaria and acute watery diarrhoea. Many injuries from weapons are being attended to in the health facilities as well as psychotherapy for traumatic stress conditions.
The most urgent health needs were emergency care for physical injury from weapons psycho-social care; primary health care (supply of Kits for static and mobile clinics' including measles and polio immunization activities) secondary health care for trauma, psychosocial and supply of essential drugs including for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. In addition, there were challenges in collecting health information detailing the numbers of injuries and deaths and health surveillance data. Health Partners co-ordination and leadership has become a high priority.