The NACC board has awarded Esther Wekesa the with the first Excellence Award. This is as a result of her notable spirit of excellence, efficiency and the ability to work under pressure. Esther Wekesa is a staff member in the CEOs office.
The NACC board has awarded Esther Wekesa the with the first Excellence Award. This is as a result of her notable spirit of excellence, efficiency and the ability to work under pressure. Esther Wekesa is a staff member in the CEOs office.
ABOUT WORLD AIDS DAY 2020
KOMESHA HIV & COVID 19
Kenya will join the rest of the world on December 1st to commemorate World AIDS Day. This is the day that is set aside for partners globally to unite, renew commitment and show support for People Living with HIV and AIDS as well as remember those who have died from AIDS related illness.
Partners and stakeholders are expected to join hands under the national theme ‘Komesha HIV na COVID-19’ #Tuwajibike’ to support the Governments efforts towards preventing the spread of HIV and COVID-19. The National theme was derived from the 2020 World AIDS Day Global theme; “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility”. The theme underscores the significance of individuals, countries and the global community uniting in taking responsibility to address HIV and AIDS amidst the growing list of challenges derailing ongoing global efforts today including the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s World AIDS Day, the 32nd edition since its inception will be commemorated under the new unprecedented norm occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic which is threatening to erode gains made against AIDS over years. A recent study by UNAIDS warned of retrogression in Sub Saharan Africa caused by COVID-19. The report noted further that the global AIDS response could be set back by 10 years or more if the COVID-19 disrupts HIV services, a situation partners are determined to avoid. Like her peers in the region, Kenya is racing against time to attain the ambitious global 90:90:90 targets as it ushers in a defining decade that the global community is determined to attain in ending AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030.
Thus the 2020 World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for stakeholders and partners drawn from different sectors to re-think strategies, re-imagine systems and devise new innovative ways to combat the two pandemics while ensuring that gains made against HIV are safeguarded.
Under the stewardship of the National AIDS Control Council plans are underway to ensure national and county events are held in a community set up while ensuring adherence to COVID-19 guidelines. Breaking from the norm the event shall thus focus more on vulnerable households of People Living with HIV and AIDS, Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Care givers, Adolescents and Young People including pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and young women, Key Populations and Persons with Disability.
As a build up towards World AIDS Day a number of activities are lined up. HIV and COVID-19 themed Television and Radio interviews are scheduled that shall involve partners in a bold and strategic move to strengthen partnerships in the response. Airing of carefully-packaged messages in form of TV infomercials and Radio spots through National TV and community radio stations respectively are also scheduled for as planners seek to sensitize, mobilize and rally communities against the two pandemics. Besides media related activities, HIV Counselling Testing Services will also be offered as well as Condom distribution. Already the process of identifying vulnerable households is ongoing. The Faith sector, one of the critical partners in the response has also embarked on a month-long sensitization programme with targeted HIV and AIDS messages among faithful’s.
The National event will be held in Kajiado County where Health Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe is expected to be The Chief Guest. A similar high profile event will be held in Nyamira County to be graced by Health PS Susan Momanyi. Counties shall mark the event at different venues. It’s expected that The Kenya AIDS Strategic Framework 2 and other documents will be launched on that day.
International Condom Day is celebrated on February 13th – a day before Valentines Day, as a way of reminding ourselves about condoms and how effective they are in preventing pregnancies and STIs, including HIV. This year’s theme is Safer Is Fun and since its inception in 2009, the day is commemorated as an effort to reduce and stop new HIV infections through safe sex practices.
Since its invention and use back in 3000 BC by King Minos of Crete, condoms have been a topic of nosiness throughout history and the idea of safer sex has been explored in ancient times and used to prevent venereal diseases. Romans used bladder of animals as condoms to protect the woman not from pregnancies but from venereal diseases until Charles Goodyear who used vulcanization – the process of transforming rubber in malleable structures – to produce latex condoms.
About 1.5 million people are living with HIV in Kenya and the national prevalence is estimated to be at 4.9 per cent. The main mode of HIV transmission is through sexual contact with accounts for about 80% of all new HIV infections. According to the 2018 HIV estimates, adolescents and young people account for 40% of new HIV infections and the reasons cited for the increase include low-risk perception of HIV and changing attitudes and casual sex with multiple partners which have also led to increasing of adolescent and teenage pregnancies.
The reduction of new HIV infections is the first objective in the Kenya AIDS Strategic Framework and Kenya being a member of UN member states is committed to contributing in reduction of new HIV infections to fewer than 500,000 globally. In the effort to reduce new HIV infections, the National AIDS Control Council is distributing condoms and installing condom dispensers across the country and since October last year over 400 condom dispensers and 300,000 male condoms have been distributed in nine counties – Homa Bay, Nyandarua, Kakamega, Siaya, Mombasa, Kisii, Kisumu, Kiambu and Nairobi. The distribution targets areas that are highly and frequently visited such as public toilets, bars and lodges. The initiative is to promote the sufficient supply and making condoms accessible to the people who need them and when they need them.
The use of condoms is cited to contribute to the reduction of HIV transmission and stopped the wider spread of HIV in places where the epidemic is concentrated. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), through a global modelling analysis, condoms are said to have averted around 50 million new HIV infections since the onset of the HIV epidemic. Currently, Kenya is finalizing its Condom Strategy Plan that will provide a national framework to guide implementation of a comprehensive condom program through advocacy and promotion, distribution and proper disposal and structured monitoring and evaluation strategies to promote the uptake and consistent use of condoms.
As the world has progressively come up with major scientific advances in areas of HIV prevention apart from condoms such as biomedical interventions such as antiretroviral therapy (ART) which has substantially reduced HIV transmission. Condoms still remain central in HIV response because only when sustained viral suppression is confirmed and very closely monitored in a person living with HIV, – and when the risk of other STIs and unintended pregnancy is low, it may be safe not to use a condom.
The National AIDS Control Council together with partners will be celebrating the International Condom Day in 3 counties – Kirinyaga, Homabay and Muranga with the national event being held at Kirinyaga University in Kirinyaga County starting at 8.00 a.m. As we celebrate the International Condom Day on 13 February, let us remember that Safer is Fun, with a condom!
Today marks the end of a 2-day workshop of Homabay County training on sustainable health financing and governance that brought together the top leadership of the county led by H.E Governor Cyprian Awiti, deputy governor Hamilton Orata, all county executive and some directors and county administrators including the Members of the County Assembly in Mombasa. The workshop covered issues on health governance and financing such as sustainable health financing and aims to create a paradigm shift in the health delivery process in Homabay county.
The workshop was organised by the National AIDS Control Council through a LISTEN (Local Innovation Spread Through Enterprise Network) model, an innovative and accountability network model that focuses on Communities of Practice (CoP) using a Human Centered Design (HCD) approach to the strengthen delivery of services both Health and non-health being piloted in Homabay and Kiambu counties in Kenya. The model is being piloted in 3 countries in Africa; Kenya, Malawi and Eswatini with support Georgetown University.
In his remarks, H.E Governor Awiti thanked the National AIDS Control Council and the Georgetown University for their efforts in HIV response in the County, that has changed the mindset of the people in the HIV response incorporating a multisectoral approach that looks at issues beyond HIV. He said, “Homabay county’s response to HIV is multisectoral and the more reason that he ensured all the county executives attended the workshop”.
Initially known as Business Process for Impact (BPI) model and changed to LISTEN model that started to be piloted in March last year has transformed the thinking of the people in Mfangano Island and Dhiwa sub-counties of Homabay by putting communities at the centre in seeking solutions to their problems.
Through ordinary grassroots gatherings of Boda Boda and fisherfolk communities that meet and discuss various issues that affect them such as security and road safety, the LISTEN model has used these avenues to plugin issues on HIV and other health issues, making them salient and feature as part of the problems that require solutions. The model has linked these communities with policymakers including county administrators and service providers as part of the process in finding solutions to their problems.
The county leadership reiterated that the LISTEN model has tremendously reduced Boda Boda accidents, boosted the savings culture through banking and in health, there is an increase of linking new HIV cases to treatment, increase use of condoms uptake for HIV prevention and reduction of HIV stigma, promotion of male circumcision and family planning.
National AIDS Control Council Dr Nduku Kilonzo praised Homabay County for good progress in HIV response in testing however she pointed that the number of men who are on treatment after testing is low compared to women and she challenged the county to come up with mechanisms that will encourage men to seek and adhere to treatment after testing.
The LISTEN model endeavours to see the countries such as Homabay County transition to an environment which shall integrate demographic dynamics into development planning in health at the county and sub-county levels to comprehensively respond to population and development issues, including population dynamics and its implications for human rights, dignity, quality of life, poverty eradication and sustainable development leading to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage.
Pro. Khama Rogo who was the keynote speaker during the workshop reiterated that health is at the centre of sustainable development goals and that health motivates everybody and challenged the counties in Kenya to approach health issues with open minds driven by innovation.
The workshop comes at a time when Kenya is transiting into a lower middle-income country, a move that will progressively make the country experience a shift in healthcare funding that relies on external donor financing towards domestic funding in areas such as HIV, TB, malaria, reproductive health and vaccines which have been heavily donor-funded. The country needs to engage in designing new ways that will scale up HIV response to sustain the gains made and continue reaching global and national goals, making sure that the future generation remains AIDS-free.
Ms. Regina Ombam, the Deputy Director HIV Investments at the National AIDS Control Council has been elected the new Vice Chair of the Global Fund Technical Review Panel (TRP) for the period November 2019 to November 2021.
The Technical Review Panel is an independent pool of leading experts in HIV, TB, Malaria, Health Systems, Human Rights and Gender and Strategic Investments and Sustainable Financing who provide oversight during the processes of review of Country Proposals and Applications to the Global Fund and making determination on the quality of Global fund Investments positioned to achieve greatest impact in a wide variety of epidemiological and country contexts. Ms Ombam has been a member of the TRP Strategic Investments and Sustainable Financing team since 2017, based on her decade of experience in Health Systems Strengthening, Modelling, Health Policy, Planning and Financing.
It is an honour for the Kenya Health sector and particularly, the Kenya National AIDS Control Council and the country at large to have Ms. Ombam in the TRP leadership.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has lauded stakeholders for Kenya’s strides against HIV and AIDS. Speaking during the 31st Commemoration of World AIDS Day at Gusii Stadium in Kisii County, The First Lady however warned of complacency urging for enhanced partnerships to jointly address barriers frustrating efforts towards ending AIDS by 2030.
‘Despite the progress made in tackling HIV and AIDS, many people continue to face challenges in accessing healthcare services, which are key to eliminating the disease,’ said the First Lady.
Reiterating her commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS the First Lady acknowledged the contribution by Communities to the Response that has seen the country make major strides. Among those recognized were the faith communities that have played a major role in advancing the HIV message in different congregations. She however decried high cases of new infections among young women and urged for concerted efforts and investments to address mother to child transmissions and help Kenya attain global targets.
‘Despite the progress made in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, the country is faced with new challenges of new HIV infections among adolescents and young women,’ She further said.
Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki while speaking at the same event said Kenya has, over the last 9 years reduced her new infection by 51% overally, the greatest achievement in the three decade struggle against the epidemic. ‘Kenya has registered more than 51% reduction in new infections from 100,000 per annum in 2013 to less than 50,000 with a HIV incidence currently at 1.8 %,’ said the Cabinet Secretary.
At the same event, the First Lady launched the Faith Sector Booklet; an activity that was marked across all counties in the presence of Religious Leaders. Developed by the Faith Sector Working Group with input from other religious leaders, the booklet is centred around nine thematic areas namely HIV knowledge, HIV prevention, HIV treatment, Care and support, stigma and discrimination, Universal Health Coverage, Sexual and Gender Based Violence, Male engagement, Adolescents and Young People(AYP) engagement.
The booklet contains factual information and messages on HIV and AIDS and general health for congregants. Besides demystifying myths and misconceptions on HIV and AIDS, the messages shall also empower congregations on the epidemic. It targets faithfuls drawn from Christian, Islam, Hindu and Bahai communities.
The year 2019 is ending with blessings at the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) as the NACC CEO Dr Nduku Kilonzo was bestowed with the Presidential Honors of the Elder of the Burning Spear, EBS on Jamhuru Day. The honors was conferred for contribution to HIV prevention in Kenya and globally and eMTCT through Beyond Zero.
Kenya has generally registered significant progress in the HIV response. The 2018 Kenya AIDS Response Progress Report shows that the country demonstrated the return on investments in the HIV response in terms of reduced new infections, HIV related co-morbidities and deaths over the last 5 years with approximately 50% reduction of new infections among adults. Also, the country reduced mother to child transmission of HIV from 14% to 11% among HIV positive pregnant women.
The CEO said the award is a reflection of the collective work and effort of everyone in the Council – those who serve this beautiful country. She quoted from the great world marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge saying “there is a formula; 100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team. And that’s teamwork…That’s what I value… this statement by our great country man espouses my acknowledgment to you all and honor at being part of and leading the National AIDS Control Council team”.
Kenya has continued to heavily invest in mega infrastructure projects to spur economic growth in the various sectors including Transport, Water and Sanitation, Energy and Housing. The development projects have variedly impacted the health status of the beneficiaries within localities where they are undertaken. Further, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) studies on projects have shown a huge impact on different health indicators including HIV and AIDS which legally should be factored in the project during the project design, implementation and overall monitoring. There has, however, been no legal and policy framework to safeguard the health and HIV interests.
It is against this back drop that the National AIDS Control Council through the department for HIV Investments led in the development of Guidelines for Mainstreaming Health and HIV interventions in Infrastructure Development Projects. The development process was through collaboration with state agencies undertaking infrastructure projects and the private sector. They include Kenya Airport Authority, State Department for Transport, African Development Bank, National Construction Authority, Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, International Labour Organization and Kenya National Urban Authority.
The guidelines provide a mechanism for state agencies and the private sector in addressing Health and AIDS related issues during the implementation of the mega projects. According to the studies, implementation of projects often increases income among workers, increases migration among the community, besides increasing sexual activities which often leads to a rise in new HIV infections.
In line with the principle of public participation the NACC led stakeholders in the validation of the guidelines to promote ownership among critical stakeholders drawn from different sectors undertaking the implementation of Government projects.
Validation of the Guidelines heralds a new chapter in the push for a sustainable financing for the HIV response. It’s envisaged that Project designers and developers will mainstream health and AIDS related issues in the entire project cycle in order to address emerging challenges. NACCs Deputy Director HIV Investments, Regina Ombam said, ‘’With the adoption of these guidelines and eventual roll out we envisage a reduction in prevalence, reduced HIV infections and improved health outcomes of the project beneficiaries along the infrastructure development corridor.”
The on-going activations in Technical colleges spearheaded by Communication Division in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Department of Vocational and Technical Training has been characterized by unprecedented increase in HIV testing services. The overwhelming demand for testing services and information clearly demonstrates that efforts geared towards reducing stigma perhaps are paying off especially among young people and adolescents.
Through the Communication Division the NACC is engaging students of four national polytechnics namely Kisumu, Sigalagala, Eldoret and Meru in phase one of the national sensitization programme. Tertiary institutions present a unique niche that has not been adequately covered with HIV programmes as the focus has mainly been on universities. The TVET institutions have also proved to be good ground based on their large populations, with institutions such as The Eldoret Polytechnic catering to over 15,000 students.
The sensitization cum advocacy programme seeks to empower students on the HIV response following startling statistics in the Kenya AIDS Response Progress Report of 2018 showing high infection rates among young people. The report cites stigma and ignorance as the main cause of new infections among this cohort. The one on one engagement has proven to be an effective way in demystifying myths and misconceptions on HIV among students. This is being complemented by exhibitions and distribution of Youth Friendly information materials to students geared towards enhancing knowledge and empowering the students.
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 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 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.
‘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 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.