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Kenya in ambitious paediatric Aids drive

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Civil Society Organisations in Kenya have launched an ambitious campaign to eliminate paediatric HIV/AIDS in three years.

The campaign that was launched on Tuesday came about two weeks after the United Nations called for rapid implementation of programmes that would eliminate Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV in time to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Kenya Treatment Access Movement Coordinator James Kamau told a news conference that there was need to allocate a certain percentage of the budget to paediatric HIV treatment.

“We have a big problem in that there is no budget allocation for paediatrics. It is not given any prominence and I don’t know why,” Mr Kamau said.

“The funds that are there from Clinton Foundation will go up to 2011 and we have not made any provisions for budget allocations yet we have money to increase salaries for a certain sector of the population,” he said in reference to a proposed increment of legislators’ salaries.

Mr Kamau said the organisations would engage in advocacy to increase coverage rates for prevention of mother-to-child transmission and paediatric treatment services from the current average of 40 percent to the global target of 80 percent.

He said Kenya had about 150,000 children living with HIV of which 27,000 were on anti retroviral treatment and 60,000 were in need. He said only 35 percent of children born to HIV positive mothers or were exposed to HIV accessed early infant diagnosis.

National Aids Control Council Deputy Director Dr Sobbie Mulindi said there was commitment from the government to ensure total eradication of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

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“Very soon the government is going to name a very high-level personality of prevention of mother-to-child (HIV transmission) to help in advocacy,” Dr Mulindi said.

The Campaign to End Paediatric HIV/AIDS (CEPA) was launched as a network of Civil Society Organisations at the national, regional and global levels to mobilise political will and financial resources needed to overcome bottlenecks to scaling up paediatric HIV diagnosis, treatment and care programs.

The campaign will first include six countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Nigeria and is intended to focus on family-centered care and nutrition, early infant diagnosis and treatment, access to appropriate medications and full funding to eliminate pediatric AIDS.

According to the United Nations, about 38,000 infants are infected with HIV annually in Kenya through mother to child transmission

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