The recently concluded Fifth Maisha HIV and AIDS Conference organized by the National AIDS Control Council and partners brought to the fore interesting insights in the implementation of Universal Health Coverage and ending HIV by 2030. Under the theme ‘Leveraging the HIV Response to Accelerate Impact for Universal Health Coverage’ the conference provided a platform for engagement with a focus on how to accelerate HIV prevention and the attainment of treatment targets, identifying opportunities and critical drivers for the HIV response that can be used to accelerate Universal Health Coverage targets.

Attracting approximately 850 participants from 35 countries around the globe, this year’s conference, which had been preceded by six pre-conference meetings, was lauded as the most successful. Delegates were drawn from Government institutions, Research institutions, Policy Makers, Civil society, Academia and Community of People Living with HIV and AIDS. Among the notable participants and presenters included renowned Researcher Prof. Mark Dybul of the Center for Global Health and Practice for Impact – Georgetown University, Catherine Sozi, Regional Director for UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Africa, and Directors of National AIDS Commissions from a member of The Global AIDS Coalition.

A total of 17 panel sessions were held during the conference, including “The Status of HIV Research: Vaccine or Cure?”, “Emerging Prevention and Treatment Technologies: What is the Future?” “Sustainable Financing for HIV in the Context of UHC” as well as a session on “HIV, Sex, Drugs and Young People” which drew high numbers. These affirmed the HIV situation in Kenya, with the country leading research around the HIV vaccine and other prevention interventions, conversations on domestic financing taking the forefront, and the country’s alignment to the global agenda that puts the interests of young people in every aspect of HIV and AIDS Response.

Lauding the conference, Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki noted that reflections of the two-day meeting in Nairobi would inform the implementation of Universal Health Coverage under the Governments Big 4 Agenda.

‘I must commend the choice of this year’s theme, Leveraging the HIV Response to Accelerate Impact for UHC.” While UHC is increasingly a global goal, Kenya’s commitment is based on the realization of the potential to return huge health dividends for the country because of the focus on community health, preventive health and investments in health systems. It is this focus, common purpose and pulling together that the UHC agenda can draw lessons from,’’ said the CS.

Important Quotes:

‘Although we boast of registering impressive results against the epidemic, challenges abound. Eastern Africa region is one of the highly burdened with HIV and AIDS. New infections particularly among young people are quite disturbing. AIDS related deaths remain high. Even as we end this meeting we need to ask ourselves difficult questions and have a candid reflection on these issues as custodian and implementers of policies and programs.’ NACC Chairperson Ms. Angeline Siparo

“The two day meeting has taught us many lessons, highlighted challenges and provided solutions which will go a long way in guiding our response efforts at this critical time as we enter the final stretch of ending the epidemic. I am certain we are better equipped with necessary requisites to apply in our different jurisdictions against HIV.”-NACC C.E.O Dr. Nduku Kilonzo

The Maisha HIV and AIDS Conference culminated with a call for participants to shift from Evidenced-based programs to systematic data-driven segmentation & targeting of programs; move from resource mobilization around donor financing to more structured diversified resource partnerships & domestic financing; from coordinating the multi-sectoral response to addressing challenges with stewardship on effective leadership; and to move from Governmental accountability to mutual accountability that ensures meaningful community engagements & inclusive governance.

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