Kenyan President commits more resources to the AIDS response

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Kenyan President commits more resources to the AIDS response

15 August 2012

(From left to right): Maya Harper, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Kenya; and the Champions for an HIV-Free Generation: Prof Miriam Were, Benjamin Mkapa, Festus Mogae and Dr Kenneth Kaunda, with Mr Andrew Mondo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of State for Special Programmes, upon receiving Kenyan gifts of spears and shields as warriors in the AIDS response.

Kenya’s government, under the leadership of President Mwai Kibaki, has allocated additional funding to its national AIDS response. The announcement came last Friday during a high level advocacy meeting in Nairobi with four members of the non-profit organization Champions for an HIV-Free Generation: Festus Mogae of Botswana, Dr Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania—all former African presidents—and Prof Miriam Were of Kenya, former chairperson of Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council.

President Kibaki stressed in the meeting that despite a scarcity of resources in Kenya, the Government will not waver in its commitment to the national AIDS response. “We are committed to ensuring that the fight against HIV and AIDS goes on uninterrupted,” said the Kenyan President.  More than 85% of resources for Kenya’s response to HIV currently come from development partners.

We are committed to ensuring that the fight against HIV and AIDS goes on uninterrupted

Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya

The Champions lauded Kenya for the progress made in its HIV programmes.  They commended the Government, specifically, for its efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, roll out extensive voluntary medical male circumcision services, and rapidly increase HIV counselling and testing services. The Champions also praised Kenya’s leaders for their strong multi-sectoral approach in responding to the epidemic.

According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS 2008/9), national HIV prevalence dropped from 7.1% in 2007 to 6.3% in 2010. Access to life- saving treatment has also improved considerably: By December 2011, over 500 000 people living with HIV in Kenya had been placed on antiretroviral therapy (representing 72% coverage)—up from just 3000 people in 2001.

During their advocacy visit, the Champions held discussions with the Cabinet sub-Committee on HIV under the authority of the Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, as well as the Parliamentary Health Committee on Health. They advocated for the elimination of new HIV infections among children and lobbied for greater domestic resources for the AIDS response.

The Champions had an opportunity to interact with representatives from networks of people living with HIV, faith-based organizations, men who have sex with men, sex workers and the private sector. They also participated in a field visit to a community-based programme in Kibera—the largest temporary settlement in Eastern Africa—where the role of civil society in promoting and increasing demand for HIV services was emphasized.

At the end of the three-day visit, the Champions congratulated the country for its Rapid Response Initiative—a home-grown, innovative approach used to increase HIV counselling and testing levels, medical male circumcision rates and uptake of PMTCT services. They considered the initiative a “best practice” that should be replicated in other sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Cautioning against complacency in the AIDS response, the Champions called on the Kenya’s leaders to step up efforts to address the epidemic to ensure that it does not undermine national economic growth.