Thu, 05 Aug 2021

NAIROBI, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Kenya should prioritize domestic financing for national programs aimed at combating HIV/AIDS, a United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) official said Friday.

"Kenya requires innovative alternative sources for HIV resources to reach many people and also help suppress the spread of the virus," Medhin Tsehaiu, UNAIDS country director for Kenya said at a forum in Nairobi.

She said the current funding model towards prevention and treatment of the disease that relies heavily on goodwill from external lenders is no longer sustainable hence the need to mobilize resources locally.

She said that additional domestic funding can easily be achieved in collaboration with the private sector and philanthropists.

The east African nation has one of the largest HIV treatment programs having enrolled 1.2 million people living with the virus on Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs. Tsehaiu called on the government to consider the manufacturing of ARVs locally and reduce overreliance on donors.

Patrick Obath, chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance Foundation (KPSAF) said that Kenya's private sector is ready to partner and start manufacturing ARVs locally.

Obath said that just like Uganda which manufactures ARVs for domestic and sale in the region, Kenya has the potential to manufacture the essential drugs locally. But the process can only take place once the government reduces the cost of electricity besides offering some incentives to local pharmaceutical companies.

Vernon Mochache, deputy director in charge of policy, monitoring and research at the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) said that with the recent ARV crisis experienced in Kenya, there is a need for the country to transition from being a dependent nation to one that provides local solutions to avert future crises.

Mochache said that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic downturn in the funding of health projects including HIV/AIDS.

Kenya is due to host a conference on sustainable domestic financing for HIV response next week.

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