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Use funds well to fight HIV

Tuesday January 14 2020

EDITORIAL
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The Global Fund has given Kenya Sh42 billion to fight HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria up to 2024. This is a generous boost, indeed, as the three diseases pose a grave threat to national development and prosperity. The organisation will also give suggestions on how to improve programmes to tackle this.

There is a need to prevent HIV, TB and malaria infections and strengthen health and community systems to, especially, take care of the more vulnerable. Experts will also advise on how to tackle gender inequalities and barriers to improve healthcare access for all. But the country must enhance its momentum for now as the Global Fund money will only be available from June 2021. Outgoing Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has indicated that it will be 17 per cent higher than the previous allocation. This can only be a vote of confidence in the management of funds.

Aid from the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), a US government initiative to address the global HIV/Aids epidemic, has been on the decline in President Donald Trump’s reign, with a number of organisations hit by his cutbacks.

Kenya qualifies for extra money to address the vulnerability of teenagers and young women. The country has a high HIV prevalence, with 1.6 million people carrying the virus in 2018. HIV/Aids deaths reduced from 64,000 in 2010 to 25,000 in 2018, according to the Kenya National Aids Control Council.

And there is a need to focus on paediatric HIV. Some 53,236 women received ARVs to prevent transmission to their newborns in 2017, only 77 per cent of those in need. About 132,300 child HIV infections were averted from 2004 to 2017. But 471,800 child infections occurred. The country must prudently use its own and donor resources to reduce the burden.​

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