Activists protest withdrawal of Global Aids fund
Activists yesterday took to the streets to protest Global
Fund’s intention to stop further remittance of the vital financial aid that is
used to cushion the HIV's deadly effects. The fund is commemorating its 10th anniversary today amid threats that it will not be able to effect the 11th
phase due to the global economic crunch which has adversely affected it's
operations. If it makes good its threat, the decision will affect
1.5 million HIV positive Kenyans, and further derail gains made worldwide in
the fight against the virus.
Speaking at Uhuru Park, where the group converged after the
march which started off at the Japanese Embassy in Upper Hill, head of National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/Aids in Kenya,
Nelson Otwoma, said the the lives of Kenyans who continue to access
treatment courtesy of the fund will be grounded. “The fund has turned the tide of many Kenyans, and any
withdrawal will negatively affect their lives,” Otwoma said, adding that there will
be a likelihood of reversing the gains.
Otwoma said that out of the infected Kenyans, 800,000 are eligible for anti retroviral treatment, and yet only a paltry 460,000
access the medication. “There is a gap in the country, as some people are not
accessing the services,” he said, and singled out the rural populations which he said is
worst hit, as they do not easily access health centres. Otwoma urged the international community to convene
a meeting, and discuss how the money could be raised to for Round 11.
While attributing the predicament to a shift of resources by
the international community to other priorities, he said postponing the
disbursement of the funds will not resolve the concern. Otwoma argues that among other ramifications related to
postponement of the funds will include mothers giving birth to HIV+ children, as well as a rise in infection rates of Aids patients. “If an infected partner is treated early, it helps reduce
the burden of the disease, whereas lack of resources to treat the patients will
translate to more infections,” he said.
The Global Fund is one of the largest financiers of global
health, and is credited with the saving of 100,000 lives monthly. Due to financial
constraints, beneficiaries may be cut off from the scale up money until 2014. Funding has been hailed for prolonging lives of patients, as
it is used primarily to treat tuberculosis, malaria and other HIV/Aids related
infections which commonly attack them. Present at Uhuru Park to offer solidarity was a
representative from Uganda’s Joint Clinical Research Centre, who called on the
donor community to honour its promise, and enhance the promotion of health
activities. “This fund is so important for the many millions living with
HIV that we cannot allow it to be withdrawn,” he said.