Kenya has reaffirmed her commitment to be on the forefront in ending HIV and AIDS infections amongst children by the year 2030.
Speaking during the Global Alliance on Ending HIV AIDS among children conference in Dar es salaam, Tanzania, the CS for Health, Dr Nakhumicha Wafula, showcased Kenya's milestones, tools, policies and guidelines available in fighting the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
The conference dubbed "The Dar es Salaam Declaration For Action To end AIDS in Africa" brought together health ministers from 12 African countries, the UN agencies and partners to share the commitment of their governments and organisations in achieving this goal.
CS Nakhumicha, highlighted the Kenyan government's drive in using digital technologies in ensuring access to treatment and care to all pregnant and breastfeeding women, providing access to universal testing & treatment for all children and adolescents living with HIV.
This was the first ministerial meeting of the Global Alliance to end AIDS in children which marked a step up in action to ensure all boys and girls with HIV can access life-saving treatment, and that HIV-positive mothers can have babies free from the virus.
She also showcased best practices in ending stigma, ring fencing budgets for ending AIDS among children and monitoring progress of the same.
Ministers and representatives at the forum laid out plans which include providing testing to more pregnant women and linking them to care, as well as finding and caring for infants and children living with HIV.
International partners set out how they would support them in meeting these objectives.
“This meeting has given me hope,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, the UN agency leading the global fight to end the disease.
“An inequality that breaks my heart is that against children living with HIV, and leaders today have set out their commitment to the determined action needed to put it right,” she added.
During the forum, the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on ending AIDS in children was endorsed unanimously.
Currently, around the world, a child dies from AIDS-related causes every five minutes.
Roughly half of children living with HIV, 52 pc, are on life-saving treatment, whereas 76 pc of adults are receiving antiretrovirals, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has described as "one of the most glaring disparities in the AIDS response."
Furthermore, although children comprise just four per cent of people living with HIV, they account for 15 pc of all AIDS-related deaths.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomed the leaders’ commitments and pledged the agency’s full support.
Every child has the right to a healthy and hopeful future, said UNICEF Associate Director Anurita Bains, adding "we cannot let children continue to be left behind in the global response to HIV and AIDS.”
The Global Alliance to end AIDS in children was unveiled at the AIDS conference in Montréal, Canada, in July 2022.
The outcome of its first ministerial meeting, the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration for Action to end AIDS in Children, was endorsed unanimously.
Tanzania’s Vice-President, Philip Mpango, called for moving forward as a collective.
“All of us in our capacities must have a role to play to end AIDS in children,” he said. “The Global Alliance is the right direction, and we must not remain complacent. 2030 is at our doorstep.”
Kenya is among the 12 countries with high HIV burdens that have joined the Alliance in the first phase.
Others include Angola, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.