NAIROBI, October 27 – The government has set aside Sh500 million for the provision of Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs after Kenya missed out on a Sh24 billion grant from the Global Fund.
Medical Services Assistant Minister Danson Mungatana said on Monday that these funds would be used to supplement an earlier grant and would cater for those living with HIV for the next two years.
“There are 220,000 Kenyans who are on the ARV programme. There is nothing that is going to be cut. They will continue receiving that support from Kenya,” Mr Mungatana said.
Kenya’s application for round eight of monies from The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was rejected over inconsistencies and incompetence in the management of previous grants.
Speaking during the 2nd National Conference on HIV/AIDS among bar hostesses, Mr Mungatana stressed the government’s commitment towards the provision of ARV drugs.
“For us as a country, we need to ask ourselves, is this sustainable? It is not. Therefore it is a direct appeal that Treasury now must start to prioritise our issues,” he pointed out.
“When we request for money to fund the HIV programme it should be given the necessary priority.”
It has been revealed that bar hostesses are subjected to stigma and discrimination due to the way the society views their work.
The cultural norms that relegate bar hostesses to a subservient status often mean that they are not in positions to negotiate for good working conditions.
Mr Mungatana further pointed out that violence against bar hostesses in Kenya is not only widespread, but is perpetrated, legitimised and accepted by many.
He stated that the main perpetrators of violence against bar hostesses were the bar owners, managers, patrons and even law enforcement officers.
He said that this undermined HIV prevention efforts and increased the vulnerability of bar hostesses to HIV transmission.
He suggested that forums and programmes involving bar hostesses, bar owners and even law enforcers be put into effect so as to minimise the spread of the HIV stigma among bar hostesses.