For about twelve years now M.E.A have been advocating and creating awareness of HIV/AIDS in Maasai land. We have held a lot of workshops targeting various groups in different areas within the Maasai community. We have currently started the CARE and SUPPORT Program which supports both the infected and affected. There is a group of 46 both men and women who have been living with the virus (infected) and are currently working on how to give them support as many of them are married and have children. Since the beginning of this year we have encouraged and supported 80 people for sensitization on HIV/AIDS issues and 120 have been diagnosed, tested and counseled for HIV/AIDS (PLWHAS) have been enrolled into our care and support program with the above 46 HIV patients have been supported to access ARVs.
HIV/AIDS is not a major health catastrophe but a serious development issue that has not been affectively addressed in remote areas of Narok district due certain varied factors. The district is characterized by high level of illiteracy, retrogressive cultural practices, poverty sparse population, which engages largely in pastrolism and related activities Narok district is semi-arid zone situated in Northern Rift Valley province and boarded Republic of Tanzania. The district occupies an area of over 17,12859Km, divided into six administrative divisions. The total population in the district is stood at 287,850 as per the 1999 census over 545 of the people are dependant (being below 155 years and those over 60 years making about 4% of the population.)
Narok district is disadvantaged in terms of social economic and physical infrastructure as these are limited far in between and in certain areas totally lacking. The entire district for example has only one major public hospital that often lacks essential medical equipment and medicine. Majorities of the population are forced to walk well between 38 and 100Km to seek medical attention. Consequently many people tend to rely on herbal medicine and traditional doctors. This has raised the level of vulnerability of mobility and mortality.
HIV/AIDS has increasingly become a major development and heath concern due to various factors. These include the nature and way of life of the Maasai people. E.g Moranism, polygamy marriage, practice of female Genital Mutilation (FGM), illiteracy and ignorance increase in tours numbers visiting game park in the district and social-cultural activities such as widow inheritance, wife sharing, ear piercing, pre marital and extra-marital sex immigration among male workers.
According to the available records, HIV/AIDS related illness has claimed 72 deaths in 1999 and 102 in the year 2000. These figures cannot in anyway demonstrate the HIV/AIDS fatalities in the district because the Maasai and Kalenjin communities who are predominant residents do not report death neither do they register birth nor attend clinics and medical checkup.
It also possible that cases are diagnosed in boarding district health facilities E.g Nakuru, Nairobi and Kiambu (Kijabe) and most of the cases reported in Narok District hospital center. This clearly implies that the actual figure of those infected could be much higher than those quoted. Significantly proportions of the local people do not clearly understand or link the rising cases of death and sickness.
There is a serious information gap/lack of understanding and clearly place a lot of people at risk. The lack of coordination approach among the various development agencies is seeking sustainable approach is address the challenge posed by AIDS