, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Jul 23 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta led a strong delegation to the opening sessions of the International Aids Conference in Amsterdam Monday, where Kenya’s Big-4 development model received special accolades.
Speakers at one of the plenary sessions said the Big 4 Agenda driven by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government puts health at the centre of the country’s social development fulcrum by investing in human capital.
UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa Patrick Brenny said the Big 4 pillar on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has the potential to return huge health dividends for the country because it ensures nobody is left behind including those affected by HIV/AIDS.
He assured Kenya of continued support by UNAIDS to achieve its UHC alongside other Sub-Saharan countries.
“UNAIDS is committed to support the UHC in Kenya and other Sub-Saharan countries,” said Dr Brenny.
Enhanced manufacturing to create jobs, provision of affordable housing and enhanced food security and nutrition are the other pillars of the Big 4 agenda.
He spoke during one of the AIDS2018 plenaries organised by Kenya, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization.
Ending the AIDS epidemic and achieving UHC by 2030 in Africa formed the topic of discussion where top health officials from Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda and Nigeria comprised the group of panelists.
Hundreds of participants that included the Kenyan delegation comprising the First Lady, Chief Administrative Secretary for Health Dr Rashid Aman, Chief Executive Officer of the National AIDS Control Council, Dr Nduku Kilonzo and NACC board chair Angeline Siparo. Three Kenyan MPs also attended the session.
Dr Aman gave a run-down of the key achievements made in the war against HIV/AIDS in Kenya adding that the country can leverage on lessons, expertise and infrastructure it has developed over the years in response to HIV/AIDs pandemic to accelerate attainment of UHC.
These achievements include reforms at the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to provide expanded health protection to a large number of Kenyans and upgrading of key health facilities.
“For us to achieve our UHC goals, HIV services including testing, ARVs and condoms must all be part of the health benefits package covered under insurance”, he told the plenary.
Dr Aman said the inclusion of HIV services in the essential benefits packages will encourage people living with the disease to enroll in the National Hospital Insurance Fund.
Other achievements made by Kenya include reduced HIV/AIDS related deaths, significant drop in maternal deaths and scaled-up access to ARVs.
Key challenges include keeping a bursting youth population healthy against the threat of HIV infections and epidemiological transitions which have witnessed a steep increase in non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as Diabetes and Cancer.
“While HIV contribution to the burden of disease has decreased by 61 per cent during the 2015-2016 period, the combined contribution of NCD has increased by 57 per cent in the same period,” Dr. Amman said
He added: “We are also aware of the contribution of HIV to increases in NCDs such as Cervical cancers and ARV-related diabetes, making NCDs HIV co-morbidities”.
AIDS2018, the world’s largest conference on a single global health issue is being hosted at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre.
It is being attended by over 15,000 researchers, activists, policy makers and representing over 160 countries.
The First keynotel give a key note address in one of the plenary meetings on Tuesday.