NAIROBI, Kenya, April 23 – Activists and Persons Living with HIV/AIDS have demanded that the government utilises billions of unspent cash from the US Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
They said on Monday that the government should spend the Sh41.5billion ($500million) of unutilised fund to treat more Kenyans living with HIV/AIDS.
It is estimated that Kenya has 1.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS. According to the activists, only 500,000 are receiving Anti-retroviral treatment.
“It’s a tragedy that money goes unused while Kenyans with HIV get sick and die because they don’t receive treatment,” said Jacque Wambui of Health GAP Kenya, a non-governmental organisation.
The activists said treatment coverage was even lower for children, currently standing at 34 percent of those in need.
“Kenya faces large gaps in treatment coverage to meet its national target of one million on ARV’s by 2015,” they said in a statement.
It is reported that the unspent monies has been accumulating in the US Treasury for more than 18 months after Congress appropriated the money.
“The US has billion of shillings unspent, and Treasury has not kept its own obligations to annually increase domestic budgets for the drugs we need to stay alive,” Wambui said.
In an interview with GlobalPost last week, Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby explained that $1.46 billion designated to fight AIDS had not been used due to inefficient bureaucracies; major reductions in the cost of AIDS treatment; delays due to long negotiations on realigning programs with recipient country priorities; and a slowdown in a few countries.
The more than 500 AIDS activists and Persons Living with HIV/AIDS said they would on Wednesday attempt to issue a memorandum to US Ambassador Scott Gration and then march to Afya House, the Ministry of health headquarters, where they would also leave a memorandum for the Ministers of Health.