Many lives are lost in the West from infections, and in Africa, the problem dwarfs what is seen in the US. Seven percent of the Kenyan population is infected with HIV, making them more susceptible to a wide variety of infections. Tuberculosis is an especially important infection in HIV-infected individuals, partly because of their own illness, and also because of how effectively tuberculosis is spread among HIV-infected people and to people without HIV.
In addition, there are many other infections that result because of unsafe water supplies and the conditions of poverty in which many people live. Even though antibiotics are used commonly, they are often not saving lives, because there is no local information on the diseases or their optimal treatments. Antibiotic resistance is an even bigger problem than in the West.
Kenya has one of the more advanced medical systems of sub-Saharan Africa, but even in Kenya, with a population of 39 million, there is only one Kenyan physician who has been formally trained in infectious diseases. If Kenyans can be trained locally they will learn in the right context and while seeing the diseases they are likely to encounter during their practice of medicine. It is important for infectious diseases training to be provided within Kenya. This will allow the physicians how to work optimally with the level of technology that is available and to learn in the context of diseases that are seen locally.
At the same time, it is important to have research that will give local physicians a better understanding of the diseases that are seen there, and how best to treat them. Therefore, we will work to increase the level of training in infectious diseases for physicians who are trained at the University of Nairobi. This will begin with:
1. Teaching the principles of infectious diseases to medical students and internal medicine residents
2. Provide training for some Kenyans at a more advanced level in the specialty of infectious diseases. These physicians can in turn, use their training to influence Kenyan public health policies in ways that will benefit all Kenyans, and to pass on their expertise to the next generation of physicians.
3. Perform research that will provide a greater understanding of the diseases that are seen locally and how best to treat them.
4. Bring the level of training in infectious diseases to a level in Kenya so that it will not only be sustainable within Kenya, but will also be able to reach out to the remainder of sub-Saharan Africa.