President Ruto of Kenya expressed gratitude for the United States’ support through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), highlighting the remarkable progress made in the country’s battle against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Speaking at the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) 20th Anniversary Celebration in Kenya, President Ruto emphasised the transformative impact of the partnership between the two nations.
“We are highly grateful to the US government for this partnership that has changed the fortunes of our nation. Such a strong show of solidarity is highly appreciated, and we do not take the friendship and support for granted,” said President Ruto, acknowledging the rare nature of the collaboration.
President Ruto reflected on the devastating toll HIV/AIDS had taken on Kenyan households and communities just two decades ago, leaving behind a trail of death, illness, orphaned children, and socioeconomic devastation. However, he praised the significant strides made since then, attributing them to the support received from PEPFAR.
Over the past two years, President Ruto’s administration has increased financial investment in the HIV commodity pipeline by Sh 1 billion to prevent disruptions in the supply of essential resources. Furthermore, the government is committed to ending AIDS in children by 2027, in alignment with the goals set by the Global Alliance.
“The time is now to take a strong stand and make up for lost ground for the sake of Kenya’s children,” emphasised President Ruto, highlighting the universal healthcare coverage pillar of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda as a crucial opportunity to address the domestic financing gap related to HIV/AIDS effectively.
President Ruto expressed his gratitude to PEPFAR, which has channelled over US dollars 6.5 billion into Kenya’s fight against the disease since 2004. The impact of this support has resulted in a 68.5 percent reduction in new HIV infections and a 53 percent reduction in HIV-related mortality. The quality of life for individuals living with HIV has also significantly improved.
Currently, 1.4 million people in Kenya are living with HIV, with 1.3 million receiving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) through more than 3,000 health facilities nationwide. Among the recipients are over 48,000 children and 55,000 breastfeeding mothers.
US Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, emphasised the importance of partnership between the government and the private sector in the fight against HIV/AIDS. She called for continued collaboration with the private sector to raise awareness about the disease and contain its spread.
Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha expressed satisfaction with the progress made in Kenya’s efforts against HIV/AIDS, highlighting that 95 percent of those afflicted with the disease are receiving treatment. Kenya is determined to end HIV/AIDS in children by 2027, aiming to achieve this milestone ahead of the global target of 2030.
Joyce Ouma, a representative from the Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, extended gratitude to the government and PEPFAR for their support in providing life-saving medications to individuals affected by the disease.
The celebration of Kenya’s achievements in combating HIV/AIDS serves as a testament to the power of international partnerships and collective efforts in overcoming significant health challenges. As the country continues its fight against the pandemic, the commitment to ending AIDS and ensuring the well-being of its citizens remains at the forefront of Kenya’s agenda.