900,000 Kenyans living with HIV put on ARVs

Acting director of Medical Services Dr Jackson Kioko and Health PS Nicholas Muraguri at the launch of the Anzisha campaign to scale up HIV treatment in Nairobi on July 15 /FILE
Acting director of Medical Services Dr Jackson Kioko and Health PS Nicholas Muraguri at the launch of the Anzisha campaign to scale up HIV treatment in Nairobi on July 15 /FILE

Kenya has received a rare commendation from WHO for reaching 66 per cent ARV coverage for all age groups. The drugs are administered to 75 per cent of children living with HIV-Aids.

This is higher than the general average for Africa, which stood at 56 per cent last year. Kenya gives about 900,000 people living with HIV the life-prolonging drugs free of charge, in Africa’s second-biggest programme after South Africa’s, which caters to 3.4 million people.

World Health Organization country representative Dr Rudolf Eggers said there are 48 per cent fewer HIV-Aids related deaths on the continent than there were in 2005.

“That is great and there has been considerable improvement in the delivery of antiretroviral treatment here in Kenya. A country like Nigeria reaches 20 per cent,” he said in an interview.

Eggers said Kenya is on course to realise Universal Health Coverage, compared to her peers on the continent. Despite the gains, however, Kenya is yet to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on health, he said.

Health PS Dr Nicholas Muraguri said more needs to be done to protect the gains made and fight emerging diseases.

“Kenya is rated among the best countries in different health interventions, but we still need to do more. We have lowered under-five mortality rates, reduced the burden of HIV-Aids, malaria and TB, but there are others who have done better than us. Our progress is good, but it is not good enough,” he said.

People on ARVs can achieve a normal life expectancy and are also less likely to transmit HIV because the drugs suppress the virus.

Eggers said Kenya is still battling a heavy tuberculosis burden. He said the country is among 22 nations with the heaviest burden in the world.

However, the TB burden has reduced from 120,000 new infections three years ago to less than 82,000 presently, Eggers said.

This is attributed to the introduction of new diagnosis equipment and handling drug resistance. Kenya’s malaria prevalence rate among children aged between two and 10 has reduced from 11 per cent in 2010, to eight per cent compared to Africa’s average of 16 per cent.

The availability of mosquito nets has shot up from 10 per cent in malaria-prone areas to 60 per cent.