Kenya Expresses Commitment To End HIV/AIDS Pandemic

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Kenya's Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Susan Nakhumicha has reiterated the government's commitment to end the AIDS epidemic while providing all Kenyans the highest attainable health standards.

Speaking during celebrations to mark this year's World Aids Day, the health CS said the government will invest in a primary healthcare model that promotes cost-effective preventive and curative care.

She said the government remains committed to safeguarding the gains realized in the fight against HIV through donor support in HIV, Tuberculosis, Malaria Family Planning, immunization, and nutrition programmes, even as she acknowledged the need to address emerging gaps in the wake of declining external funding.

"This external funding has, in recent years declined. To address these gaps, we have prioritized Commodity security including through the scale up competitive local manufacturing. We will leverage digital solutions to enhance our prevention and treatment programmes," said Nakhumicha.

Efforts by the government and stakeholders, according to Nakhumicha, have seen the country's HIV response yield a 58 per cent decline in annual AIDS-related deaths from 52,964 in 2010 to 22,373 in 2021, reflecting a five-fold increase in the number of people living with HIV on life-saving antiretroviral treatment, from about 250,000 thousand in 2010 to 1.12 million in 2021.

However, the country is faced with the challenge of stemming new HIV infections among adolescents and young people aged 15-24 years, a state of affairs blamed on the layered challenge of adolescent pregnancies and sexual and gender-based violence, now dubbed the triple threat.

"These overlapping challenges of new HIV infections, pregnancies, and sexual and gender-based violence among our children negate the gains we make in the health and education sector. They are not only disruptive to an individual but the whole society.
Child motherhood has long-lasting severe health consequences for girls," observed the health CS.

On her part, the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council CEO, Dr. Ruth Masha, said new HIV infections increased by 7.3 per cent in 2021 from 32,027 to 34,540 in 2021 in Kenya for the first time in a decade.

"An estimated 52 per cent of all new infections occurred among Adolescents and young people aged between 15-29 years. Adolescents pregnancy infringes on young people's fundamental rights to complete education leading to the loss of economic opportunities. It is unfortunate that in 2021 teen pregnancies among children aged 10-14 increased by 28.7 per cent from 16,956 to 21,823," said Masha.

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