No Comments » February 10th, 2008 posted by // Categories: African Affairs

NAIROBI, 7 February 2008 (IRIN) – Health officials are concerned about the long-term impact of Kenya’s political crisis on healthcare, especially in areas hardest hit by violence since the end of December 2007.

“The most worrying issue is that of drug resistance among patients of chronic diseases,” Ian van Engelgem, the medical coordinator of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), told IRIN on 5 February.

He said HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) patients who had missed out on their regular medication for up to a month due to displacement and violence could develop resistance to the drugs.

“Right now a lot of HIV patients are on first-line drugs; they could require second-line drugs, which are more expensive, if they develop resistance as a result of skipping their ARV [anti-retroviral] medication for a period of time,” Van Engelgem said.

The fact that internally displaced persons (IDPs) have better access to healthcare compared with the host community where the camps are located is another concern.

“If IDPs have access to free healthcare, the same should also apply to them [host communities] as they are equally affected by the unrest,” Van Engelgem said.

Displaced health workers

Joanne Greenfield, malaria adviser for the UN World Health Organization (WHO) in Nairobi, said displacement and ongoing violence in parts of the country could lead to a crisis in the provision of healthcare in the affected regions.

“The security situation, especially in the Rift Valley [Province], is affecting the provision of health services to the general public as a significant number of health workers are either displaced and/or cannot report to their duty stations,” Greenfield said.

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