Kenya’s new national plan on violence downplays police brutality

By Gatonye Gathura

The Ministry of Health has developed a national plan to deal with increasing cases of violence and injury as a threat to public health.

The National Violence and Injury Prevention and Control Action Plan 2018 – 2022 has been published at a time the country is facing increasing threat of political violence.

The plan, Cabinet Secretary for Health Dr Cleopa Mailu says has been provoked by a surge in violence related deaths and injuries in the country.

“The action plan seeks to have a Nation that is free of violence and avoidable injuries,” says Dr Mailu in a forward to the report.

The action plan, known as VIP says efforts in the next five years will focus on nine causes of injuries that carry the heaviest burden in the country.

These are listed as injuries from: road traffic, falls, burns, drowning, suffocation/chocking, poisoning and gender, child and elder violence in that order.

The five-year plan was published the same day the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights claimed 92 people to have died from assaults during the recent elections.

The rights commission blamed most of these deaths on bullets from law enforcement officers.

The new and first ever national plan on violence and injuries in Kenya however does not acknowledge gun violence in the 72 page document.

Neither does the plan quantify injuries or death from political related violence including acts of terrorism

A report published by the Violence and Injury Prevention Unit of the Ministry of Health in January showed firearm as a major cause of injuries and deaths in Nairobi.

The unit and its head, Dr Gladwell Koku Gathecha, also the main architects of the new VIP action plan had listed assault with firearms as the major killer of adolescent boys in Nairobi.

The study reported gunshots to be responsible for 15 per cent of deaths in Nairobi County. Death from firearms was the second greatest killer of males aged between 20 and 44 after death by blunt objects.

Death by fire arms was indicated the all leading cause of loss of life for adolescent boys aged between 15 and 19 in Nairobi County.

“Majority of fire arm injuries in Nairobi have been documented to be carried out by law enforcement officers,” said the study.

A similar trend is shown in the Kenya STEPwise Survey for Non Communicable Diseases 2015 Report.

This report of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization is the first and only national survey on prevalence of injuries among adults in Kenya.

The report showed assaults as the leading cause of injuries in Kenya at 42 per cent followed by road accidents at 28 per cent with other causes representing about 10 per cent each or less.

The reports including the VIP action plan however agree that violent deaths and injuries are most prevalent among the poorest of Kenyans.

Data from various human rights groups shows most of those who died during the recent election related violence are from poor neighbourhoods.

Levels of poverty, the VIP action plan says is an indicator of the kind of injury an individual is likely to suffer.

The poorest, the plan says are most likely to be murdered, assaulted or commit suicide while middle income Kenyans are likely to be involved in road accidents with the rich prone to severe falls.

The VIP action plan targets are reducing death from injuries and violence by 20 per cent by 2022.

Within the same period the ministry plans to reduce the number of injuries by 30 per cent and road traffic fatalities by half. Currently about 3,000 deaths are cause by road traffic accidents annually.

In her study Dr Gathecha had blamed an inordinately high level death from injuries to a poor emergency medical system.

The team had called for an evaluation of Nairobi County’s pre-hospital systems and the effectiveness of its ambulance units including the skills and knowledge of first responders.


  • 15-29 years most at risk of road traffic injuries, suicide and homicide
  • Children below one year at risk of suffocation
  • Drowning risk to children ages 0-4years
  • Falls are the leading cause of injury in elderly
  • Males are two times more likely to be injured than females
  • Road traffic, suicide, homicide leading cause of death for men
  • Road traffic, falls and suicide leading cause of death for females