President William Ruto has praised the partnership between Kenya and United States (US) in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief(PEPFAR),President Ruto said Kenya has made impressive strides in the fight against the scourge.
“We are highly grateful to the US government for this partnership that has changed the fortunes of our nation. Such strong show of solidarity is highly appreciated and we do not take the friendship and support for granted,” said President Ruto.
“I must say this is one of these very rare partnerships,” added the President.
He regretted that until about 20 years ago, HIV-AIDS went through the households and communities of Kenya in a deadly rampage that left behind many people dead.
He added that the situation left others suffering agonizing illness, thousands of orphaned children, with many also infected with HIV, and vast socioeconomic devastation.
President Ruto made the remarks at the Library grounds, Nairobi, during the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) 2023 20th Anniversary Celebration in Kenya.
The Head of State noted that over the past two years, the Government has increased its financial injection into the HIV commodity pipeline by Ksh1 billion to prevent supply disruption.
He said his administration was keen to end AIDS in children by 2027 as part of the commitment under the Global Alliance.
“The Time is Now, to take a strong stand and make up for lost ground for the sake of Kenya’s children,” said President Ruto.
He argued that the universal healthcare coverage pillar of the Bottom-UpEconomic Transformation Agenda offers a significant opportunity to effectively address the domestic financing gap with respect to HIV.
“I call on all stakeholders to embrace this opportunity and make their contribution to a transformed and sustainable national HIV response,”
The President thanked PEPFAR for supporting Kenya in fighting the scourge, saying it has channeled over US dollars 6.5 billion since 2004.
“As a result, there has been a 68.5 percent reduction in new HIV infection and53 percent reduction in HIV-related mortality, accompanied by tremendous improvement in the quality of life of persons living with HIV,” said President Ruto.
He noted that the number of people living with HIV was 1.4 million, of whom 1.3 million receive anti-retroviral therapy (ART) from more than 3,000 health facilities across the country.
“This number includes over 48,000 children as well as 55,000 breastfeeding mothers on HIV treatment,” he said.
US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman said partnership between the government and the private sector remains key to elimination of HIV/AIDS.
“We must work together in creating awareness on the dangers posed by the disease,” said Ambassador Whitman.
She urged Kenya to continue working in collaboration with the private sector in containing the disease.
Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha said Kenya has made good progress in the war against the disease.
She expressed satisfaction that 95 percent of those suffering from the disease were on treatment.
“Kenya is working hard to end HIV/AIDS in children by 2027 as other countries focus on 2030,” said CS Nakhumicha.
A representative from Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Joyce Ouma thanked the Government and PEPFAR for supporting people suffering from the disease through provision of drugs.