Do not play politics with people’s health
It has been sad watching the fiasco between the government and the US development agency, USAid, over the Anti-retrovirals (ARVs) that were stuck at the Port of Mombasa since January.
While the two go head-to-head, the party who will suffer the most is people who depend on the vital drugs for survival.
According to UNAIDS, more than 75 per cent of adults and 63 per cent of children living with HIV are on ARVs.
The lack of access to the drugs will mean reduced suppression of the virus in someone’s body, and poor adherence, which will translate to drug resistance. This, consequently, reduces treatment options to patients.
Although the government had since sought approvals and cleared the drugs, the harm is already been done.
People living with HIV have had to face the stress and pain caused by uncertainty over access to ARVs.
That is not a good place to be, especially with a condition such as HIV/Aids.
While it is understandable the pandemic has caused a delay in deployment, import and distribution of drugs and medical products, it is important that the government goes back to the drawing board to strategise on a better way to handle matters during crises.
Already the World Health Organisation has placed a call that countries are at risk of running out of ARVs, a message that should have been heeded immediately by the government.
Importantly, it should put in place measures to ensure sustainable financing in matters health, including HIV interventions.
This way, there would be better planning and anticipation of any issue even in time of emergencies such as Covid-19.
On the other hand, developmental and global partners should also work in tandem with the government for the benefit of the people it wants to assist.
The fact that USAid opted for a private US company for handling the ARV donation is contentious and a solution to the foregoing needs to be found.
The question that lingers in mind is what gaps are in place for USAid to choose a private entity than the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.
As the process of seeking a permanent solution continues, politics should be put aside and no one should attempt to play games with Kenyans’ health.
Government and development partners must put the patient first and work towards their wellbeing even as they work together to address arising issues in the country.