Kenya: Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission Projects at Stake
April 2, 2010
Access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission could become even more challenging in Kenya, which has seen its second consecutive grant request denied by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The fund cited confusion between the ministries of medical services and public health as a key reason it rejected the $270 million proposal.
"Already due to the confusion and competition between the two ministries on who should control the money, procurement of essential drugs for public hospitals has not been done, leading to shortages," said James Kamau, coordinator of Kenya Treatment Access Movement.
In its report, the Global Fund raised concern over potential duplication of roles between the ministries and an unjustifiably large, unsustainable workforce. The government's proposals are also not clear on how the proposed projects would be implemented, the fund said.
About 300,000 Kenyans need ARV treatment, including pregnant HIV-positive mothers and their children, Kamau said. New World Health Organization guidelines advocating earlier treatment mean that even more people, about 600,000, should be treated, said Dr. John Ong'ech, an HIV specialist at the University of Nairobi. Of the 1.5 million women who become pregnant in Kenya each year, 100,000 are HIV-positive.
Public health facilities are already beset with erratic ARV supplies, said Sarah Oluoch, an HIV-positive resident of Kibera. "I am not sure what is going on, but lately we keep getting different brands of ARVs every time we go to the hospital and this is causing confusion," Oluoch said. "In fact one of my friends with a newborn recently confused her medication, taking one of the drugs twice, because she is not accustomed to the changing brands."
Inter Press Service
04.01.2010; Susan Anyangu-Amu