Tools to improve health care for sexual minorities in Kenya

Published: July 18, 2010

Tools to improve health care for sexual minorities in Kenya

G.V. Owino

ISHTAR MSM, Health, Nairobi, Kenya

Issues: Kenya continues to have laws that condemn sexual minorities, a medical curriculum that identifies them as “diversions” and a health care system that discriminates and stigmatizes them. This has made the LGBTI (lesbians, gay, bisexuals, transgender and intersex) community who are sexual minorities, shy away from accessing treatment and demanding representation in planning and priority-setting processes for HIV/AIDS. As a result less or no resources are devoted to programs targeting them and thus the widening incidence of HIV/AIDS among them.

Description: An assessment conducted to inform program implementation using a sample of 125 people who included health care workers, LGBTI individuals, and medical students from Nairobi and its neighbourhoods. 40 filled open-ended self-guided questionnaires, 60 attended a forum aimed at strengthening the capacity of health care providers to safeguard the rights of sexual minorities, and 25 gave oral and in-depth interviews. Data presented is from the interviews, questionnaires and forum views.

Lessons learned: Respondents said Kenya neither has health centres or hospitals where they can receive treatment without stigma and discrimination nor HIV/AIDS and STI prevention programs. Following a forum that brought LGBTI people, health care workers, medical students and human rights activists together, it was found that attitudes and perceptions can be changed by awareness, advocacy and human rights based approach being applied as tools to improve and strengthen the capacity of health care workers to safeguard the rights of sexual minorities.
Health care workers in attendance were ready to treat LGBTI people better and even advocate for them to their colleagues and gave suggestions that their training curriculum be changed.

Next steps: Skills are needed by health providers in handling LGBTI patients while programs implementers can utilize skills demonstrated in this session for improved understanding and relationships between providers and LGBTI people.

Download the e-Poster (pdf)

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