Violence in Kenya: A physician's reflections on MAP's response

In the aftermath of Kenya's disputed presidential election in late December, looting and riots spread swiftly across the country, killing more than 1,000 people.

The conflict revolved around a political power struggle between tribes supporting the re-elected President Mwai Kibaki and those associated with his opponent, Raila Odinga, as each side accused the other of cheating in the election. Brutal violence forced more than a quarter of a million people to take refugee in ad hoc tent cities as mobs wielding guns and machetes stormed and torched homes throughout cities and villages along the Rift Valley.

MAP International, which has an office in Kenya's capital of Nairobi, responded to the crisis by providing healthcare for more than 30,000 people in areas affected by the fighting. MAP launched six clinics, including three mobile units designed to deploy rapidly to areas of critical need. MAP clinicians provided care for people wounded in the fighting as well as treatments for people who succumbed to diseases, such as malaria and dysentery, which often spread rapidly in the tent camps. MAP also provided immunizations for children displaced by the fighting.

Peter Okaalet, a physician from Uganda who serves as MAP International's Senior Director for Health and HIV and Aids Policy in Kenya, took part in MAP's response to the violence. He recently recalled the events in an interview with Voice of America radio news.