Reprieve as US donates vital HIV medication
George Kebaso @Morarak
The fight against HIV/Aids has received a boost after the US donated life-saving prevention and treatment medications.
This has effectively ended apprehension by more than one million Kenyans living with HIV after months of protest following the seizure of Antiretroviral drugs at the Mombasa Port due to a tax payment stalemate.
Successful negotiations between the US and Kenyan governments - according to officials at the US Embassy in Nairobi - have unlocked massive distribution of some 300,000 packs of 90-day supplies of Tenofovir/Lamivudine/Dolutegravir and about 4,400 packs of 30-day supplies of Atazanavir/Ritonavir.
A press release from the Embassy shows the exercise targeting 2,144 public health facilities countrywide kicked off on Wednesday night.
Eric Watnik, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy said the two governments are working together to resolve delays in the importation, warehousing, and delivery of ARVs and other medical supplies.
“The United States has stood with the people of Kenya in the fight against HIV/Aids for decades and we are proud of the results,” he said in Nairobi.
Donations of medicines, supplies, and expertise from the American people, he noted, have improved the lives of a generation of Kenyans and brought this epidemic under control.
“We continue working with the Kenyan Government on our mutual goal of eradicating HIV/Aids in the country,” Watnik added.
He said representatives of both governments through the United States Agency for International Development (USaid) and the Ministry of Health, will oversee the distribution of the donation.
“The two governments are committed to finding a lasting solution for continued shipments of US-donated health commodities, including developing systems that will provide better accountability.
“The United States and Kenya will collaborate on how to improve and strengthen Kenya’s public health supply chain and implement robust internal and external controls so that all Kenyans continue to receive life-saving medications with dependability and transparency,” he added.
In the interim, the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies, a Christian not-for-profit organisation registered as a trust of the ecumenical partnership of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Christian Health Association of Kenya, will be facilitating the distribution on behalf of USaid and the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.
United States is the largest donor for HIV/Aids prevention and treatment in Kenya and remains deeply committed to the health and safety of the 1.2 million Kenyans who rely on ARVs.