Kenya has scaled up war against HIVAids

Kenya has scaled up its war against HIVAids by setting aside Sh2.6bn ($26 million) in its 201516 budget for the purchase of anti-retroviral drugs, President Kenyatta has said.

He affirmed his commitment to making Kenya the third country in Africa to control HIV epidemic after Botswana and Namibia.

“Long-term options, including providing HIV treatment as part of national health insurance, setting up HIV and health funds that will leverage government financing and fostering strategic private public partnerships are urgently required,” President Kenyatta said.

The President spoke on Friday in New Delhi when he presided over a high-level meeting on “ensuring access to lifesaving medicines to end the aids epidemic by 2030”, as he concluded his official visit to the Asian country.

He urged Africa’s development partners to bridge the financing gap in combating the HIVAids in order to foster more equal partnerships.

“Such global commitment with targets, investments and actions could well result in averting 28 million new infections and 21 million Aids related deaths by 2030,” President Kenyatta said.

The President also underscored the need for a joint India-Africa cooperation framework on health commodity security, as part of an enhanced partnership in the war against HIVAids.

He said a framework focused on health commodity security would facilitate local manufacturing capacity and promote technology transfer for production of high quality medicines that would be accessible and affordable to those who require them.

“With the imminent changes for Indian manufacturers and an increasing number of African countries graduating to a middle income country status, such a framework needs to safeguard and extend the HIV related flexibilities under the trade and intellectual property rights,” President Kenyatta said.

President Kenyatta – who received accolades for spearheading the fight against Aids among the youth – said Kenya was adopting policies for incubation of local industries for commodities and pharmaceutical products.

“Kenya is taking the lead on pharmaceutical testing, utilizing its WHO prequalified laboratory, one of five in Africa,” President Kenyatta said.

As these processes proceed, the President urged India to continue producing generic anti-retroviral medication at the quantities required for the rapid scale up of accessibility until the African pharmaceutical industry is fully developed. 

He said India, a long-standing proponent for the rights of least developed countries, could contribute by ensuring that trade agreements do not infringe on HIVAids flexibilities.

He disclosed that one of the key agenda items at the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, which Kenya will host this December, will be the long-pending Doha agenda which will deal with issues relevant to intellectual property rights in addition to leveraging an enhanced and equitable India-Africa partnership. 

He commended India for its bold policies in health and other areas such as agriculture and food security.

“In particular, African countries are benefiting from India’s global leadership in the primary production of generic medicines,” President Kenyatta said.

Other speakers included India’s Health Minister Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha, among others.