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Kenya cautioned over global Aids fund

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 1 – As people around the globe celebrate World AIDS Day, Kenya is being cautioned over its past failure to spend cash allocated to fighting the scourge through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium attributed the loss of up to $67 million from the Global Fund to the government’s failure to set up adequate policies to facilitate use of the money.

KANCO Executive Director Allan Ragi has said the country should ensure it does not miss the vital funding in future as this would affect the country’s HIV programmes.

“We are likely to have over 300,000 people lose treatment if we don’t get that financial assistance. We are anticipating that by 2014 about 620,445 people will need ARVs and if we do not get the necessary funding 382,307 people will not have access to the drugs and are likely to die,” he pointed out.

“It is therefore important that we keep requesting and appealing to the relevant institutions to provide support,” he emphasised.

Mr Ragi further explained that Kenya would be able to reduce the HIV/Aids incidence by 50 percent if the country got enough funding, discounting the views by Public Health Minister Beth Mugo that Kenya had enough funds to cater for its HIV programmes.

“If we get enough money we will reduce the HIV incidence by half so that if it currently stands at 166,000 we would hope to bring it down to 83,000 in the next four years,” he said and explained that incidence levels did not refer to the number of people living with the HIV.

“Incidence refers to a measure of risk for developing some new condition within a specified period of time. Therefore when we have good success programmes for ARVs it will mean that we will still have people living with HIV but with a few deaths. This will in turn mean less orphans and quality of life will be improved,” he said.

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Mr Ragi also said that if the country lost funding from the Global basket it would also miss out on the acquisition of male and female condoms that are key for prevention of the HIV/Aids scourge which could turn costly for the Kenyan tax payer.

“When the funds are given to a country it is meant to make a difference at the community level so when Kenya missed out on the funding all Kenyans suffer a loss. This is because the funds are usually a grant, not a loan. It is money that is given free from the global tax payer and it is so important to the Kenyan tax payer that we should not even lose Sh1,000,” he said.

“The highest level of leadership in this country needs to be involved to ensure that the country uses its money on time because that is what will be helpful. Missing out on this Global Fund resource affects the future of this country and therefore we cannot afford to lose this new resource,” he said.

He also blamed the previous regimes for Kenya’s failure to spend the funds.

“The current government has shown a lot of effort in ensuring that Kenya does not lose more money. However because of institutional arrangements and challenges that were there before you find that the ills of the past still follow us,” he observed.

Mr Ragi also explained that Kenya had made an appeal to the board of the Global Fund (three weeks ago) following the rejection of further cash for Round Nine, and urged Kenya to have a back up plan just in case its appeal failed.

“We hope that the Kenyan appeal goes through. However it is important to look at what we call plan B in case the appeal is not considered. The most important question for Kenyans is whether we have resources to ensure that drugs are available so that if they are not we find another source,” he said.

He added that the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) had assured Kenya that it would provide HIV medication for the next four years.

“So far PEPFAR has guaranteed that they will support the Kenyan government in ensuring that they aid the treatment of almost 200,000 people till the year 2014,” he stated.

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