Nairobi, Kenya (AP) – Kenyans living with HIV say their lives are in danger due to a shortage of US-funded antiretroviral drugs due to a dispute between the US aid agency and the Kenyan government.
The delayed release of drugs shipped to Kenya late last year was due to the government charging $ 847,902 in donations, and the US Aid Agency having “trust” issues with the “vaccinated” medical supplies in Kenya, activists and officials said.
Activists on Friday denied the government’s “public relations” statement on Thursday that it had resolved the issue by distributing drugs in 31 of Kenya’s 47 states. The government says all counties will have the necessary medicine for 1.4 million people in five days.
“We assure the people that no patient is going to miss medication. “We have enough supplies,” said Efri Mwagwi, head of customer service at Kenya’s Medical Supplies Department, as the cargo was being unloaded. He said the drugs would last for two months.
The United States is by far the largest donor to HIV in Kenya.
Kenyan Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe told the Senate Health Committee earlier this week that the United States had released a batch of the drug that remained in the port. Patients are expected to receive them within a week.
He said the United States had offered to use Chemonics International to procure and supply drugs to Kenyans because of “trust issues” with the national body of medical supplies.
Bernard Baridy, chief executive of the Blast Youth Network, says the drugs will only last for a month.
He said the delay in drug distribution, in addition to restrictions on the coronavirus epidemic, meant that many people living with HIV would receive a one-week supply instead of three months.
Many drug addicts have to travel long distances to get them; they may have difficulty finding transportation every week; if they can’t take them, they will resist, Barid says.
“Drug adherence will be low due to availability. “If we do not get medicine, we will lose people,” he said.
According to Baridi, HIV-infected children suffer the most from the shortage of the well-known drug Caletra, which looks like syrup and can be taken more easily. Those who have to look for the drug in tablet form, grind it և mix it with water, և it is still bitter for children to take it bitterly.
Baridi urged the Kenyan government և USAID to find a solution to who should distribute the medicine quickly for the sake of the children.
Around 200 people living with HIV staged a peaceful protest in Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city, on Thursday, wearing T-shirts and posters reading “Sick Nation is a Dead Nation” and “Murderous Government” :
About 136,000 people, or about 13 percent of the city’s population, are living with HIV in Kisumu, says Ogutu Akach, a local human rights activist in Boniface.
“We can not keep silent, watch this population weaken, just because they can not get medicine somewhere, it’s because the government wants to tax the donation,” he said. He said:
Eric Okioma, who has HIV, said the government was distracted by the COVID-19 epidemic, which affected even the community.
“People are even afraid of being infected with HIV,” Okioma said, adding that local HIV testing centers are empty.