Original Research

Successes and challenges of speech language therapy service provision in Western Kenya: Three case studies

Bea Staley, Ellen Hickey, David Rochus, Duncan Musasizi, Rachael Gibson
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 68, No 1 | a838 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v68i1.838 | © 2021 Bea Staley, Ellen Hickey, David Rochus, Duncan Musasizi, Rachael Gibson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 April 2021 | Published: 27 September 2021

About the author(s)

Bea Staley, College of Indigenous Futures, Education and the Arts, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia
Ellen Hickey, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
David Rochus, Yellow House Health and Outreach Services, Kisumu, Kenya
Duncan Musasizi, Yellow House Health and Outreach Services, Kisumu, Kenya
Rachael Gibson, Yellow House Health and Outreach Services, Kisumu, Kenya


Background: The need for communication-related services in sub-Saharan Africa to support individuals experiencing communication disability is a longstanding and well-documented situation. We posit the inequities highlighted by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) make this a relevant time for speech language therapists and the professional bodies that govern us to broadly consider our roles and practices in education, health and disability in local, national and global contexts.

Objective: To illustrate what services developed with local knowledge can look like in Kenya in order to promote dialogue around alternative speech language therapy models, particularly in contexts where there are insufficient services, few trained speech language therapists and limited structures to support the emerging profession.

Method: This article examines three clinical case studies from Western Kenya, using a conceptual framework for responsive global engagement.

Results: Service needs in Western Kenya well exceed a direct one-on-one model of care that is common in the minority world. The service delivery models described here emphasise training, skills sharing and engaging the myriad of communication partners available to individuals with communication disabilities.

Conclusion: We offer up these case studies of collaborative practice as contextual realities that may be present in any speech language therapy programming in under-resourced communities. We dispel the idea that success in this work has been linear, progressed on planned time frames or come to fruition with targeted goal attainment. The fact that our relationships have endured in these communities since 2007 is our primary success.


Speech language therapy, Kenya, collaboration, service delivery, sustainability


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