Dec 4th, 2008 by Kimberly Adams
“In every adversity there is an hidden seed of advantage.”
Early this morning I was up and resumed my early morning ritual of watching news programming as I prepare for the day. Unlike my first 2 days in Kenya my anxiety level was such that I felt relaxed enough to explore a bit. I decided to get the Kenyan perspective on the news. I found the above quote on TV K-24 (all Kenyan all the time). My time is Kenya has quickly taught me that the Kenyan people espouse to the philosophy inherent in the quote. They are can do sort of people who don’t let the barriers (limited supplies, shortage of health workers, etc. ) create obstacles.
For example, earlier this week we visited the Liverpool VCT. I sat in awe as the staff discussed their scope of service provision including hotlines for youth, post-rape care, programs for MSMs and prisoners, and most noteworthy: services for disabled persons. The staff were engaged, committed, and innovative in their approach. They talked of being committed to the goal of testing 80% of the Kenya population for HIV by 2010. The rate is 37% up from 14% just 2 years ago. Yeah! They spoke passionately about their services for the disabled making it clear why disabled persons may be more vulnerable to HIV. Some may say that it’s no surprise VCT has a large staff and a rather sizable budget. But I say the key is in the people. The staff’s commitment to upholding human rights principles—principles such as accessibility, respect for autonomy, justice, etc. They have invested human capital in upholding these principles.
Yet they are not alone. As I observed at the HERAF conference there are many Kenyans who remain committed to health as a right. The psychiatrist who continued to put forth the need to create access to available and quality health mental health services; he continued to put forth that all important agenda. The persons living with HIV/AIDS who gave voice to their concerns about addressing confidentiality and reducing stigma and discrimination. The program director who so eloquently made the case that advancing contraceptive technology for women is essential to adequately addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. One nurse spoke about her stance that quality care must be provided to rural persons despite any limitation that governmental regulations and limited resources may impose. “I have to do my best. That’s why I have to prepare myself to do my best and to be my skillset. The people in my rural community must have it.” These are just a few among many who have decided to advance a human rights agenda. These folks have made “walking the talk” a personal priority despite any structural and systemic barriers that may exist in the current health care system.
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