In a special series, IRIN examines health and development in Kenya. "The vast arid lands of northern Kenya are generally drier, less fertile, poorer and rank lower in most humanitarian and development league tables than the rest of the country. ... Preventable and treatable diseases are often neither prevented nor treated for want of adequate healthcare. Attracting qualified doctors and nurses to the hinterland is a major challenge. There is not enough to eat, or if there is, it is too expensive or insufficiently nutritious - millions depend on food aid. In many northern areas, more than a third of children are at risk of malnutrition."
Summaries of articles in the series appear below.
- One article looks at Kenya's health system and the spread of disease. "An under-developed health system characterizes the northeastern and upper-eastern region. 'These are areas which do not attract [health] staff as they are hardship places. There is a chronic shortage of staff,'" according to Argata Guracha, of the WHO's Emergency Humanitarian Action (EHA) programme. The article also looks at other barriers to health care and includes a section on the risk of cholera and neglected tropical diseases, including visceral leishmaniasis. It also has information about refugee health (12/18).
- A second article examines the impact of drought in Kenya. "Recurrent drought has created a dependency on food aid, but the aid is also inadequate. 'The food aid may be targeting 100 out of 700 needy households … then hunger and malnutrition becomes a common problem,'" said Rashid Karayu, chairperson of the Golbo Integrated Development Programme. According to IRIN, "Food voucher cards are also being handed out in parts of northern Kenya. ... Staff monitors randomly visit the households and the shops for assessment ... The venture, which started in July, ends in December." The article also looks at drought response (12/18).
- Another article in the series focuses on malnutrition among children. "The nutrition status of children is worse in areas with high livestock deaths and extreme poverty, a community officer at Isiolo's [Arid Lands Resource Management Project] office, Lordman Lekalkalai, told IRIN, adding that although water stress had gone down with the rains, food insecurity had not eased. According to government figures, rates of stunting among children are much higher in such areas - 42 percent in Eastern Province, compared with 29 percent in Nairobi." The article examines how cultural beliefs can interfere with child nutrition (12/18).
- A fourth story examines food security in the country. In the northwestern Turkana region, only a few areas had rain in October after below-normal March to June long rains, according to a December update by the USAID-supported Famine Early Warning Systems Network ... which added that 'food insecurity is likely to deteriorate substantially in coming months, compounded by human and livestock disease upsurge, conflict, and higher-than-normal food prices'" (12/18).