In a passionate declaration, President William Ruto has restated the government’s unwavering commitment to eradicating HIV/AIDS infections among children in Kenya by 2027.
Addressing the 20th-anniversary celebration of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Ruto stressed the urgency of making up for lost time in the ongoing battle against the disease.
“We are dedicated to putting an end to AIDS in children by 2027, as part of our pledge within the Global Fund alliance. The time has come to take a decisive stand and recover lost ground for the well-being of Kenya’s children,” affirmed Ruto.
Highlighting the historical stigma faced by individuals with HIV, President Ruto acknowledged the millions of lives lost, which posed a significant threat to the nation’s productivity and economy.
“People affected by HIV were left to confront their challenges alone, abandoned, or sometimes entirely forgotten.
This nation lost millions in this manner, and for a while, it seemed like the HIV/AIDS crisis would decimate a large portion of our productive population, depriving the economy of workers and families of breadwinners,” he remarked.
Ruto commended the collaborative efforts between Kenya and the United States through PEPFAR, a crucial alliance providing essential support since its establishment in 2003.
“Urgent support was necessary to elevate the level of effective intervention. This support materialized in the form of PEPFAR,” he acknowledged.
President Ruto attributed significant progress to this collaboration, citing support for over 1.3 million individuals, including 48,000 children and 55,000 breastfeeding mothers, who received antiretroviral treatment.
“The number of people living with HIV is around 1.4 million, with about 1.3 million receiving ARVs from over 3,000 health facilities nationwide.
This figure includes over 48,000 children and 55,000 breastfeeding mothers on HIV treatment,” he added.
While celebrating achievements, the President also recognized the financial challenge, revealing a substantial gap of USD11.75 million (approximately Ksh.1.785 billion) due to a decline in donor support.
“The imminent conversation in Kenya will focus on how we tackle the financial challenge.
HIV-related costs are estimated to be between Ksh.27-30 billion annually, and due to a decrease in donor support, the funding gap now stands at USD 11.75 million,” he expressed.
As Kenya aligns with 12 other African countries in the Global Alliance to End AIDS in Children by 2027, President Ruto called upon stakeholders to contribute to a sustainable national HIV response.
The comprehensive strategy aims to eliminate AIDS in children within the next four years, focusing on ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis.
The approach will also harness and accelerate a multi-sectoral response to address the triple threat of new HIV infections, pregnancies, and sexual and gender-based violence facing the youth.