Children make up approximately 50% of the total population in Kenya and suffer from the highest mortality of any age group. Approximately, one out of ten children die before they reach the age of five in Western Kenya. Most of these deaths are the result of treatable and preventable illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhea, HIV, malaria, malnutrition, measles, and neonatal complications. Because of this, AMPATH partners with the Kenyan government to improve access to primary healthcare to all children, provides comprehensive medical care to HIV-infected and HIV-exposed children, and works to improve newborn services from the household up to the referral level at Riley Mother Baby Hospital.
AMPATH cares for over 22,000 children who are HIV-infected or who have been exposed to HIV through an HIV-infected mother. The AMPATH Pediatric HIV care program aims to help families overcome the challenges of having a child with a chronic disease taking life-long medicines. These children receive comprehensive medical care throughout 55 sites in western Kenya, including HIV testing, antiretroviral medicines, medicines to prevent opportunistic infections, nutritional support, disclosure counseling, adolescent support groups, and adherence assessment. A multidisciplinary team of clinical officers, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, outreach workers and pediatricians supports the clinics.
In addition, AMPATH Primary Health Care has partnered with the Kenya government in order to implement and innovate onto the Kenya Essential Package of Health (KEPH), which focuses on maternal and child health services. This program is currently being piloted in 5 districts serving a population of 500,000. It aims to improve drug and equipment supply chains, increase the uptake and availability of pediatric services including immunizations and appropriate treatment of acute illnesses, and improve newborn services at the household and facility level. Community Health Workers (CHWs) will evaluate every child under the age of five in their home for common problems including problems during the newborn period, malnutrition and acute illnesses. The CHWs will link the household to the facility in order to improve the delay that is oftentimes encountered in seeking and receiving care. AMPATH-PHC is working within the current health system to improve services and empower communities to advocate for their health.
In order to provide a sustainable workforce dedicated to pediatric services, AMPATH also focuses on medical education of health providers of children in Kenya. Post-graduate pediatric trainees and medical students spend time rotating in North America at the consortium schools. Indiana University supports a full-time Pediatrician who participates as a Moi University faculty in the Department of Child Health and Pediatrics and who helps train medical students and residents in the wards and in didactic sessions. In addition, AMPATH helped to build the Riley Mother Baby Hospital, which contains the first tertiary care newborn unit in Western Kenya.