News Column

Communication in Health Crisis Emergencies in Kenya

July 4, 2014



KENYA, July 4 -- The International Organization for Migration issued the following news release:

As Kenya is becoming prone to emergency crisis - drought, malnutrition, food insecurity, disease outbreaks and inter-communal conflicts - there is no clear communication mechanism concerning health risk management, especially for displaced people.

"Evidence from past disasters, both man-made and natural, in Kenya has revealed various effects on the health system, such as breakdown in the continuum of care," said Ashraf El Nour, IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa to participants at a two-day workshop (3-4 July) by the Ministry of Health on communication during a health crisis emergency. "Mass displacement of people has also impacted the delivery of critical services, like HIV and TB care, by health workers."

"Effective communication plays a vital role in the planning, response and recovery of humanitarian emergency activities," he added.

IOM has developed Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials for disaster affected communities and host communities to promote health and to control communicable diseases.

For instance, through the Japan funded programme in Kakuma and Daadab, IOM has developed and distributed IEC materials in local languages on diarrhoea and cholera prevention and control. IOM has also assisted the government through the District Health Management Team (DHMT) in Kamukunji to translate various existing IEC materials into Somali, Swahili, Oromo and Amharic which are the languages popularly spoken by migrants in the Kamukunji district of Nairobi.

The two-day workshop is aimed at establishing a common understanding of the important role of communication in health humanitarian emergencies, at reaching a consensus on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of communicating in emergencies, and to agree on actions, mechanisms and structures needed to enhance emergency communication in Kenya.

The long-term goal of IOM health strategy in Kenya is to decrease the health vulnerability, affected by migration, among populations affected. IOM's approach in emergencies is guided by the principle that health actions in emergencies call for rapid assessment of needs and the identification of the gaps in the provision of health services in order to quickly reach early recovery and to strengthen the health system.

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