NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 17 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday launched a campaign to enrol an additional 130,000 children for anti-retro viral therapy (ART) as part of his promise to ensure all HIV positive children in the country are on treatment.
In February while launching the End Adolescent AIDS campaign, President Kenyatta said it was unacceptable that over 140,000 adolescents living with HIV were not on ARVs.
Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri told Capital FM News that in the intervening period about 10,000 additional children had been put on treatment.
As part of the effort, President Kenyatta tasked the Ministries of Education and Health with coming up with programmes that would raise awareness of the condition in schools.
This was after 11-year-old Elijah informed him of the challenges he’s faced as a child living with HIV.
“At the All In launch, I was particularly touched by young Elijah, who shared his personal struggles with stigma and discrimination, noting that this was common for our young people living with HIV. The consequences of this are that young people are less likely to disclose their HIV status, get tested, adopt preventive behaviour or access treatment. This is unacceptable because our constitution guarantees every child the right to education, the highest attainable standard of health and protection from all forms of discrimination.
“It is therefore my desire that every young Kenyan living with HIV does not face discrimination in our schools and communities,” President Kenyatta said on Thursday.
He spoke at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre where he also launched an application called HIV Situation Room which is intended to help the national and county governments keep tabs on the HIV status in the country.
“I am pleased that an Internet based dashboard, the Kenya HIV situation room, has now been availed at my office,” he said.
Unlike adults of whom an estimated 80 percent of those living with HIV are reported to be on ART, 45 percent of children are not. “This campaign is going to see us save up to 9,000 lives,” Muraguri said.
Two Non-Governmental Organisations however moved to court in June challenging the manner in which the national government planned to bridge that gap.
The Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and Aids Children of God Relief Centre protested a directive to County Commissioners to collect information on the children’s guardians, information on expectant mothers who are HIV positive and those breastfeeding mothers who are HIV positive.
The lobby groups argued that the information requested was to be gathered in a format that would interfere with the privacy of the affected individuals, violating their constitutional rights.