Nairobi – THE Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has called for innovative domestic funding for HIV/Aids to bridge the gap of unmet needs. He said initiatives aimed at fighting the scourge are threatened by the reduction in funding, especially from donors.
Speaking recently at the Safari Park Hotel, while presiding over a two-day National HIV Prevention Summit, Macharia called for strengthening of institutions, including county governments, to reduce the atrocities of the disease. The summit was organised by the National Aids Control Council.
In a speech read on his behalf by the director of Mental Health, David Kiima, Macharia called for the strengthening of HIV/Aids programmes to achieve the targeted “towards zero” drive. “In order to realize efficacy and effectiveness of the available resources, the government is focused on putting high premium on high impact areas of intervention for tangible results,” Macharia said. He further said that the government had prioritized setting up and meeting targets and accountability for results as a mode of ensuring increased positive awareness.
This year’s summit theme is: “HIV Prevention: Everyone’s Business”, where the conveners are calling on all sectors to embrace mechanisms that will prevent among others, stigma and discrimination. A whopping 80 per cent HIV/Aids funding is sourced from international community, with a threat of dwindling fortunes for the fight which has given most patients a lifeline and prolonged their lifespan. Macharia reiterated the importance of counseling and testing, saying knowing one’ status is vital in ensuring access to services.
Last week, the government released the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey results, which showed that the prevalence had dropped from 7.2 per cent in 2007 to the current 5.6. However, NACC says more still needs to be done to further lower the figures that are still high, especially in Nyanza, which had the highest prevalence of 15.1 per cent, almost three times higher than the overall national percentage. HIV/Aids initiatives reach out to an estimated 80,000 people annually, even as NACC continues for root for a higher percentage to access the disadvantaged rural population.
Other measures being undertaken include prevention of mother to child transmission, which has ensured babies being born free from the deadly virus. “Aids is no longer a death sentence, as people living with HIV who are on treatment do live normal and full lives,” Macharia said, and challenged agencies undertaking research work on the deadly disease to use the data for further reduction of the societal burden.
An estimated 1.2 million Kenyans are living with the virus, with a total of 640,000 patients singled out as being eligible for anti retroviral drugs, but not accessing them due to inadequate funding. NACC further says that Kenya records an annual new infection rate of 87,500 and 10,300 among Adults and children respectively, with 46,000 lives succumbing to the scourge.
Hailing the introduction of a special tribunal to handle HIV/Aids related crimes, the NACC CEO, Alloys Orago called for exposure of initiatives that impact the fight against the pandemic. Since its inception, the tribunal, which has been in operation since last year, has addressed 44 cases, most of which are work related.
Present at the function included Homa Bay County Governor, Cyprian Owiti and representatives from various counties