The continuing post-election saga of violence, killing and intimidation in Kenya has far reaching health impacts beyond the immediate sorrow of unnecessary deaths. News reports today indicate that food aid for displaced persons cannot reach those in need because of insecurity.
Robyn Dixon reports in the Baltimore Sun that, “Up to 100,000 Kenyans face starvation in western Kenya because of election-related tribal violence, the World Food Program warned yesterday, as rivals in last week’s disputed presidential vote showed no willingness to talk.” In addition, “More than 180,000 Kenyans have fled their homes because of tribal violence, the United Nations reported, and 500,000 will need aid in the coming month.” According to the BBC, “Food rations in many homes outside Nairobi are running short as most shops remain closed.”
It will not take long before increased susceptibility to diseases, including malaria, will plague the displaced and homeless. The situation is particularly sad because Kenya was held up as a model of success by the WHO’s Global Malaria Program in August. According to the BBC public transportation has nearly shut down. Displaced people will now have little or no access to life saving malaria interventions including prompt treatment with ACTs and ITNs/LLINs. Women will miss antenatal appointments and an opportunity to receive IPTp.
In an attempt to preserve or gain their own power, political leaders actually give more power to devastating diseases and hunger. The people of Kenya deserve better.