KENYA: Access to health care for rural and marginalized communities

Kenya faces enormous health challenges, including a devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic and a high rate of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity.  With limited access to health care due to severe poverty, poor roads and understaffed health facilities, providing comprehensive and equitable health care services remains a challenge.

Since 2004, HealthRight has focused efforts on the economically and geographically isolated communities of Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley.  HealthRight is partnering with Kenyan health providers and local communities to respond to three areas of critical need: HIV/AIDS, malaria  and maternal and neonatal health. HealthRight has successfully implemented programs to improve health outcomes for mothers and infants, build access to malaria prevention and treatment and create care and support services for over 1,700 people living with HIV in five districts of Kenya.

Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health
Maternal and neonatal health care is an urgent need in the North Rift Valley, where more than 70% of women give birth in their homes, and access to emergency medical care is hindered by long distances, poor roads, and lack of transportation infrastructure.  One-third of infant deaths occur during the first month of life, and over 95% of women in the region have undergone female genital mutilation, making them even more vulnerable during pregnancy and childbirth. HealthRight established the Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health in 2006 to reduce the number of maternal and newborn deaths in the Northern Rift Valley.  The program works to build the capacity of local health providers, educate communities about essential care, and build lasting access to services.  Prevention and treatment services for HIV/AIDS and malaria are also a key component of the project. Read more...

Partnership for the Prevention and Treatment of Malaria
Malaria is the leading killer of children and pregnant women in Kenya, where poverty, poor prevention practices, costly care and insufficient drug supplies have propelled the disease to epidemic proportions. In 2008, the five highest-risk districts of the North Rift Valley reported almost 400,000 cases of malaria. Deaths due to malaria were as high as 19 percent, and as many as 70 percent of pregnant women lacked access to preventative and curative medications. Launched in 2009, the Partnership for the Prevention and Treatment of Malaria is working to build the capacity of the local community and health system to promote healthy care seeking behaviors, improve service delivery and increase access to insecticide-treated nets. This has included working closely with a network of over 1,000 community health workers to distribute information and services, and integrating malaria care into maternal and neonatal health services being delivered by HealthRight and the local health system. Read more...

HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment and Care
HealthRight began working to build lasting access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for communities in the North Rift Valley in 2005, when we constructed a clinic at the Kapenguria District Hospital and worked with the local health system to develop a model for providing comprehensive care. Beyond testing and treatment of HIV, the project addresses related issues like nutrition, psychosocial support, and stigma within the community, and has developed innovative mobile and outreach clinics to ensure that even the most remote communities have access to care. The project has worked with thousands of HIV-positive individuals, more than two-thirds of them women. Importantly, the program has  focused on building local capacity among health workers and community members, to create sustainable systems and commitment to providing access to quality HIV prevention and treatment services for years to come. Read more...