Kenya to benefit from multi-billion shilling American HIV fund

Containers of ARVs. FILE PHOTO | SARAH OOKO | NMG  

Kenya will continue to benefit from a $6 billion (about Sh620 billion) global health kitty from the US government as America looks to launch a new strategy in 13 countries with high burden of the HIV/AIDs epidemic.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the United Nations General Assembly that the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) - initiated by former US president George Bush - has reaffirmed its support to fight HIV/AIDS in more than 50 countries but with a new game plan to accelerate implementation in 13 countries in the region.

They include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Ivory Coast, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Haiti and Rwanda.

Recent data from PEPFAR shows that the 13 countries have the potential to control the epidemic by 2020.

“The latest PEPFAR data show that, largely through the US government’s support, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is coming under control in five of these 13 countries: Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These data also indicate that the previously expanding HIV epidemic in Uganda has now stabilized,” said Mr Tillerson.

Slash funding

US President Donald Trump’s administration had requested that the programme's funding be cut by $1 billion (about Sh103.3 billion) earlier this year but the Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week to keep it largely unchanged at about $6 billion.

The reaffirmation comes four months after the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) froze its funding of Kenya's Ministry of Health indefinitely due to what US ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec said was massive wastage and theft of funds – including donor funds.

The US, however, remains the largest bilateral donor to the global HIV/AIDS response.

Key CBK Indicative Exchange Rates Used: $1 = Sh103.315