Kenyans on Tuesday joined the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS Day with calls on stakeholders to step up efforts aimed at lowering infections in the country.
This year’s event was held in Kajiado where the local county government unveiled an ambitious plan to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis by the year 2024.
The plan supported by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s Beyond Zero will enable Kajiado County to mobilise resources and implement programs aimed at ending the two diseases.
Kajiado County has an HIV prevalence of 3.4% with more women infected at 4.5% compared to males at 2.3% carrying a disease burden of slightly over 30,000 people living with the virus.
In her recorded message, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta rallied stakeholders to ramp up efforts to end HIV in the country by investing in programs that will help guard vulnerable citizens against the virus.
“There is a critical need for increased awareness and resources for prevention and treatment of HIV especially amongst our youth, and more work to protect people living with AIDS from stigma and discrimination.
“I strongly advocate for zero new infections and zero mother-to-child transmission of HIV. I continue to encourage mothers to attend at least four antenatal checks where they can receive free testing,” the First Lady said.
In a speech read by CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said Kenya will defeat HIV through a multi-pronged approach that covers increased awareness, action and resources.
CS Kagwe applauded Beyond Zero for its growing investment in the country’s health sector saying the initiative had catalysed the improvement in provision of health services across the country.
“Her (First Lady Margaret Kenyatta) consistent support for the Government’s Linda Mama Programme under the Universal Healthcare Scheme has led to many mothers delivering in medical facilities assisted by professionals,” the Health CS said.
Kajiado County Government also launched Kenya AIDS Strategic Framework II, Kajiado County AIDS and STIs Plan II, and the Automated HIVSelf-Testing Vending Machine during the event.