Amref to issue statement over ‘Mama Daktari’

Wednesday May 26 2010

By WALTER MENYA

Amref Kenya told the Nation it would issue a statement on Thursday on the accusations against Dr Anne Spoerry.

She is listed among the Amref’s champions for selfless work to citizens of East Africa. Fondly remembered as “Mama Daktari”, her work among the poor and pastoral communities in Kenya and beyond is recounted in the Amref website.

She not only treated patients, but also did much to educate them on cleanliness as a way of avoiding illness, and persuaded parents to get their children immunised against polio, smallpox and other serious diseases, Amref says on their portal.

She also taught women birth control so that they could limit the size of their families. Dr Spoerry arrived in Kenya in 1949 after short a stint in Ethiopia.

Amref headquarters in Nairobi refused to give an immediate comment on investigations by the Financial Times of London, which found that Dr Spoerry was accused of taking part in the torture and murder on behalf of her German captors while a concentration camp inmate in World War II.

The portrait of one of the most admired humanitarian workers in East Africa recalls that Dr Spoerry started as a bush doctor. “By the 1960s there was one doctor to every 30,000 people in East Africa. Even so, Anne’s biggest struggle when she first moved to Kenya was fighting the negativity of being a female doctor”.

She bought Lokolwa Farm in Ol Kalou, which she sold soon after Kenya’s independence. Dr Spoerry died in 1999 at the age of 81, having continued piloting her light aircraft deep into remote bush airstrips well into old age.