Monday, March 10, 2008

Duke's Ties With Kenya Tested by Unrest

When political and ethnic violence erupted in Kenya last December after a bitter presidential election, the ripples reached Duke. A number of faculty and students had to put on hold several health and education programs in that country, located on the east coast of Africa.

But with the rival factions agreeing on February 28 to end the unrest, hope to jump-start the programs has emerged. Check here for a status report from the Duke Global Health Institute.

Among programs affected, a group of students was scheduled to travel to Kenya this summer to participate in WISER. Started jointly in 2006 by Dr. Sherryl Broverman of Duke and Dr. Rose Odhiambo of Egerton University in Kenya, this nonprofit organization is building the country's first girls' boarding school and research center, in the village of Muhuru Bay on Lake Victoria. Duke students had helped each summer -- and blogged about their experiences -- and the school, if plans hold, will open in 2009.

In another project, Dr. Jeff Wilkinson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, was is in the midst of extending Duke’s efforts to create a program in women's health in Kenya. The prospective plan is to work jointly with AMPATH -- the Academic Model for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS -- an ongoing partnership between the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Moi University School of Medicine in Eldoret, Kenya.

As a front-line report on AMPATH, one of its co-founders, Indiana's Dr. Bob Einterz (photo), spoke on March 6 at Duke at a University Seminar on Global Health. Check here for this insider's look at AMPATH's experiences during the turmoil and here for a recap of the lecture.

Dr. Einterz told many success stories, including that of Daniel Ochieng (photo), a 24-year-old medical student who was their first patient to survive and went on to lead the program's outreach efforts. And he said that thanks to the courage of AMPATH's many Kenyan employees, its clinics were not damaged and remained open during the violence.

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