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Healthline Connects
Healthline Connects

Global Healthbeat: Kenya - What happened?

Kenya, to most North Americans, has long been one of those African nations that seemed safe and stable. We know that it is on the east coast, on the equator, it may be the birthplace of our species, and with exotic wildlife in a gorgeous setting, a place to take the family on safari. We know there is high employment and extreme poverty but we knew that up until late December 2007, Kenya was politically stable. Elections were held in December 2007 for a new President. Incumbent President Mwai Kibaki (Party of National Unity - PNU) was running against Raila Odinga (Orange Democratic Movement and while Kibaki has been sworn into power again, many claim the results are suspect. Kenya has descended into violence and mayhem since then, and many lives have been lost, many more are internally displaced.

Had we been paying attention, we would have noticed some unsettling facts: it is a nation of 37 million people but the GNI per capita is about $540 and the life expectancy; 46 years for women. It is ranked one of the 20 most corrupt countries in the world. The US gives $1 billion annually in aid for health care, education, and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Lucas Sang and Wesley Ngetichc, track and field stars, were killed in the violence. Sang competed in the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Mugabe Were, a member of parliament and a peacemaker, was killed. U.S. presidential candidate Obama has family members in Kenya who are affected by the violence. Gender based violence - especially rapes of girls under age 18 - including brutal gang rapes - has escalated. Women and children, forced to flee their homes and seeking shelter in camps with little or no security, are in double jeopardy. UNICEF has launched an appeal for an emergency $3 million to assist women and children displaced by the violence in Kenya.

Thank you ActionPix Maruko for use of photo 2007 Post election violence Kenya.
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