Nairobi / Kenya

Fight against AIDS and Tuberculosis in the slums of Nairobi

Photo: African Visuals Media
Photo: African Visuals Media

An estimated 2.7 million of the 43 million people living in Kenya are currently infected with HIV, and about 500 die each day due to the consequences of the disease.

Nairobi has a population of 3.1 million, about two million of which live in the slums - although these only make up five percent of the city area. In the shanty towns, about ten percent of the adult population is infected by the HI virus. Thus, the slums belong to the most affected areas in Kenya.

Poor living conditions, extreme poverty as well as the lack of education are main reasons for the spread of HIV/AIDS in the slums of Kenyan capital.

Many of the HIV infected people also suffer from tuberculosis (TB) as the virus makes people more vulnerable to the tuberculosis agent. The immunodeficiency disease makes people particularly vulnerable to the TB pathogen. In confined living spaces with poor hygienic conditions, diseases such as TB are spread quickly. A major problem is also the transmission of HIV from mothers to their unborn children. According to current estimates in Kenya, 50,000-60,000 babies are infected with HIV already in utero each year.

Since 2001, Malteser International has been fighting against AIDS and TB in the slums of Nairobi with around 800,000 inhabitants, training the staff of the health centers and educating the population. In addition, laboratories have been set up in the slums. The employment and further training of local specialized staff is the key to success of the work in Nairobi. For an effective treatment of AIDS, qualified and sufficient personnel for the intensive care of the patients and the regular control of their blood and organs are indispensable. Another decisive success factor is the involvement of the population in the health program by training volunteers – so-called Community Health Workers. They act as mediators between the health facility and the population and bring health care closer to the people. Since 2012, a special focus lies on the prevention of transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their children.

TB is curable with a combination of three to five antibiotics and the treatment takes about six to eight months. The continuous medical care of the patients is of utmost importance: if a patient stops treatment prematurely, incurable resistances may develop. 

HIV/AIDS cannot be cured, but with so-called anti-retroviral drugs, the disease can be suppressed and the patient can lead a relatively normal life. Transmission of HIV from mother to her baby can be prevented with proper prenatal and postnatal treatment in most cases.

  • On-site examination, diagnosis and treatment
  • Support of patients through personal care, advice and nursing tips for relatives
  • Rise in the number of HIV and TB testing leads to increase in timely treatment
  • Treatment of HIV-affected persons with modern, life-prolonging AIDS medicines (antiretroviral therapy)
  • Specific treatment of HIV-infected pregnant women to prevent transmission of the virus to their unborn babies

  • Set up of eight laboratories and VCT- Rooms (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) in Nairobi slums. These laboratories enable the on-site examination of patients.
  • Treatment and sustainable medical care for TB patients following the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) Strategy to avoid defaulters
  • Antiretroviral treatment for HIV / AIDS-infected patients
  • Employment of additional nurses in existing health centers
  • Linking health facilities with the Ministry of Health for quality control and to ensure supply of certain drugs and medical consumables free-of-charge
  • Training for the staff in the health centers to ensure high quality health care
  • Training of slum residents as health care helpers: thanks to these lay helpers, the number of people in the slums willing to be tested for HIV and tuberculosis is on the rise
  • Educational measures to fight the stigma of HIV / AIDS
  • Creation of support groups for HIV-positive mothers

Project data
Duration:Since August 2001

German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), CDC through Catholic Relief Services, Global Fund, USAID, private donations

Kenyan Ministry of Health, Nairobi City, African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), ten private health centers in Nairobi slums
Malteser:Rosemarie Gallinger

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A community health worker measures the temperature of a sick child.

A community health worker measures the temperature of a sick child.
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