Home to Kenya

Home to Kenya
November 30, 2017

Kelsi Kriitmaa

I am currently the Senior Health Technical Advisor for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), covering portfolios in Somalia and South Sudan. The journey that brought me here began in 2007. I had completed my Masters in Public Health (MPH), but had not yet obtained much work experience in the field of development or humanitarian work. I became involved with CSIH, and was deployed as a CSIH intern with IOM in Kenya.

This placement changed the course of my life. From the first day, everything was different for me. I was a 25-year-old Canadian stepping off the plane in Nairobi, Kenya. I did not know a soul, and had never travelled to Africa. It was certainly an eye opening experience, to say the least. My placement with IOM was the opportunity I needed to put the skills gained through my Master's degree into practice. After my six-month placement, I was offered a position with IOM, and have been working with them over the course of the last decade in Kenya, Somalia, Geneva, and South Sudan.

My internship was followed by various Programme Officer positions in Kenya and Somalia. I was the lead researcher on multiple integrated HIV biological and behavioral surveillance (IBBS) surveys across East Africa. The last few years I have been predominantly working on the humanitarian responses in South Sudan and Somalia, overseeing health programmes across both countries for migrant and mobile populations, including internally displaced populations (IDPs) affected by conflict, drought and resulting emerging and protracted displacement. We provide emergency primary health care through static and mobile teams, disease surveillance and outbreak response, and health promotion for populations in need, in collaboration with the Government and other humanitarian actors. Both South Sudan and Somalia are encountering concurrent infectious disease outbreaks, including cholera and measles, the needs are immense

I have had the fortune to travel across Africa and Asia for my work, working with brilliant and dedicated colleagues, in a profession that has meaning, impacting the lives of vulnerable communities on a daily basis. 

I am Canadian, but Kenya is now my home, having been here for nearly a decade now thanks to my internship with CSIH.