The Kenya Defence Forces Thursday, December 1, 2022, joined Kenyans and the world in observing the annual World Aids Day in various military barracks in Kenya and beyond.
Among the areas KDF marked the global day include Defence Headquarters and Moi Air Base in Nairobi, Kenya Navy Base Mtongwe, Kenyatta Barracks in Gilgil, Recruits Training School (RTS) in Eldoret and Dhobley Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Somalia among others.
The Day whose theme was ‘Equalize’ provided a rare opportunity to create awareness of the disease and enable the soldiers to undergo Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.
In his speech read at Defence Headquarters by Deputy Commander, Kenya Army Maj Gen William Shume, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen Robert Kibochi hailed the efforts made so far in combating the disease.
Gen Kibochi urged the soldiers to raise awareness of the impact of HIV in their lives, end stigma and discrimination towards the victims so they may integrate with the rest of the people.
“We should raise awareness of the impact of HIV on our lives, end stigma and discrimination and eventually improve the quality of life for people living with HIV in our community,” said Gen Kibochi.
The CDF affirmed that this year’s theme, ‘Equalize’ is a call to action that prompts all and sundry to work together to address inequalities and end HIV AIDS through the formulation of policies and practices to tackle the stigma and discrimination faced by the infected and affected.
He noted that there’s a need to embrace the use of technology to enable equal access to the best health practices and adopt the message by highlighting the particular inequalities experienced and addressing them promptly.
The CDF also said that the theme also resonates well with Kenya as a global partner in ending the vice and KDF whose mandate is securing National Territorial Integrity which requires all-time readiness, a mission that cannot be achieved without good health.
He further commended the Ministry of Health for the immense support it has offered to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and KDF in the provision of HIV services to personnel and implored the soldiers to undergo testing occasionally and take other precautionary measures always.
Gen Kibochi said the progress reports indicate a significant reduction in new infections, increased sustainable access to treatment, fewer HIV-related deaths and reduced stigma and discrimination.
He said KDF’s roadmap towards ending the epidemic by 2030, as well as responding to other Emerging Infectious Diseases saying that KDF has adopted an integrated healthcare service model that is client-centred, impact proven through the multi-disciplinary approach.
He commended the Ministry of Health (MOH) and various government agendas for the immense support to MoD and KDF in the provision of HIV services to soldiers and their dependents.
The CDF lauded those who have tested and known their HIV status and encouraged all to take up the test and further challenged all to embrace positive health-seeking behaviours for the promotion of wellness. A healthy Nation is a Wealthy Nation whereas a Healthy Force is a Mission Ready Force, stressed the CDF.