UNTREATABLE PANDEMIC

Homa Bay, NGOs unite to fight Aids

They are banking on prevention by expanding access to healthcare

In Summary

• County has huge health burden and limited access to basic health care services

The Homa Bay government is collaborating with NGOs to tackle the high and negative health indicators in the county, especially on HIV-Aids.

The NGOs help the county government by conducting research and coming up with strategies and interventions for implementation plan to improve health services.

The partners include the People’s Health Movement (PHM)-Kenya, Egpaf, National Aids Control Council (NACC), Maisha Trust, Aphia Plus and USAid.

PHM-Kenya recently joined the county government in the World Health Day celebrations in Ndhiwa constituency.

Organisation official Eunice Owino and steering committee members Dan Otieno and Linnet Okore said Homa Bay is faced with a huge health burden coupled with limited access to basic health care services.

The health burden is driven by sexual abuse and defilement, teen pregnancy, gender-based violence and early marriages, maternal deaths, HIV prevalence, malaria and tuberculosis.

“The inadequate health facilities, with the most vulnerable forced to spend out of pocket to access healthcare, further pushes thousands of people into extreme poverty,” Owino said.

PHM assists in sensitisation, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care, all of which rely on a strong primary healthcare system.

“This is the level where individuals, families and communities receive the very first healthcare,” Otieno said.

In its awareness creation, PHM Kenya said it will work with community health workers to motivate and promote health deliverables.

“Community health workers understand the traditions, cultures and practices, health history of the communities, hence making them indispensable during an outbreak or emergency,” Okore said.

PHM Kenya urged the Homa Bay government to empower their patients to take care of their own health.

We’re determined to wage a sustained total war against Aids in the county as a health, social, economic and cultural challenge
Governor Cyprian Awiti

DECLARATION OF WAR

In their speeches, Governor Cyprian Awiti and Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata said their strategies to reduce the health burden are founded on diseases defining trends, populations at risk of contracting and transmitting infections.

Awiti said the county, through the Homa Bay County Multisectoral Aids Strategic Plan (HCMASP), is making significant strides in the fight against the HIV-Aids scourge and other common diseases.

“I call upon all residents, stakeholders and development partners to double efforts in prevention, especially of HIV, because we cannot treat the Aids epidemic,” Awiti said.

The governor said they aim to achieve universal access to quality, affordable and integrated services in preventing HIV-Aids and to mitigate the negative impact of other diseases on the economy of the county, households and community.

“In the strategic plan, we’re clear, committed and determined to wage a sustained total war against Aids in the county as a health, social, economic and cultural challenge,” he added.

The county chief said they are addressing health-seeking behaviour, lifestyles, and reaction to illness, infections and disease.

“There is a need for community support systems and a paradigm shift in the face of cultural dynamics,” Awiti said.

Orata said Homa Bay government is establishing two health centres in each of the 40 wards in the county.

He said this would ensure they bring health care services closer to the people.

“Homa Bay government wants residents to get the best health services. We’re also doing our best to ensure our health facilities don’t run out of drugs,” he said.

The deputy governor said they are working closely with the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) to deliver essential drugs regularly.

He said they are soon going to roll out universal health care across the county to boost health services.

“Universal health care is needed and we view it as a solution to many health issues affecting the county residents,” Orata added.