Kenya: PEPFAR doubles AIDS funding

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NAIROBI, 17 December 2009 (PlusNews) - The US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has pledged US$2.7 billion over the next five years to advance HIV programmes in Kenya - a 112 percent increase.

"Kenya is now the biggest recipient of the [PEPFAR] programme in Africa... we hope the money will go a long way in addressing the challenges posed by HIV in the country," Michael Ranneberger, US Ambassador to Kenya, told the press in the capital, Nairobi, on 16 December.

PEPFAR and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are the largest contributors to the country's AIDS programmes.

"The money will help our efforts in trying to provide treatment for people living with HIV; part of it will go towards providing support to vulnerable groups like orphans," Nicholas Muraguri, director of the National AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Programme, told IRIN/PlusNews. "It is now incumbent on us to see to it the money is used properly."

Kenya's record with HIV funding is chequered: the Global Fund withheld funds in 2003 over corruption issues and again in 2008 and 2009 due to concerns about corruption and poor coordination between the country's two health ministries.

"The US government must not just give us a blank cheque; let them monitor the use of the funds they have given us so that the common mwananchi [citizen] benefits," said Crispin K'apiyo, coordinator of Slum Youths Against HIV, a Nairobi-based grassroots organization. "Otherwise, with the government's poor implementation record, you end up with a situation where so much is happening but things just remain the same."

Kenya's HIV prevalence stands at 7.4 percent. Some 300,000 Kenyans have access to life-prolonging antiretroviral treatment; as a result of treatment scale-up, AIDS-related deaths in Kenya have fallen by 29 percent since 2002.



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