The health situation in Kenya is slowly but surely improving. At the same time, there are differences between cities and countryside when it comes to availability of healthcare, with a doctor-density outside the big cities corresponding to around one percent of the Swedish level.
Even if care and medication are important, there is a lot to gain inpreventive care. The long-term ambition for Gundua Health Centre is to increase the standard of living in the region by battling problems such as malnutrition, resistance to antibiotics, alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. The main challenge is to increase the inhabitants’ generally low knowledge of hygiene and health. And the first step to generate change is to educate the children. Sexual information and family planning is neglected and many students at Gundua Secondary School are forced to interrupt their studies because they get pregnant.
The Kenyan state is behind massive information campaigns about HIV, and HIV drugs are subsidised. Despite these efforts, there remains a flippant attitude, especially among men. It’s a common view that if a man is infected by a woman he can “return” the illness to another woman – something that has led to an increase in the transmission of HIV, syphilis and other venereal diseases. Another misunderstanding shared among both patients and pharmacy and healthcare employees is that all illnesses can be cured with antibiotics and malaria vaccine. Malaria is not even present in the area. To increase trust in healthcare services, Charles Dyer, one of the driving forces behind Gundua Foundation and much respected in the area, has put himself in line to show there is nothing strange about testing oneself for HIV.
Thanks to the agreement with ApotekHjärtat, the Gundua Foundation has secured financial as well as knowledge-based support for at least three years.