County admits medics’ strike affected anti-HIV campaign
Kwale County government has admitted that the prolonged strike by health workers adversely affected people living with HIV and Aids in the region.
County Health Chief Officer, Dr. Kishindo Mwaleso said the strike by doctors and nurses had dire consequences on such patients as healthcare services were paralyzed for months before they resumed duty.
Dr. Mwaleso was speaking at celebrations to mark 2017’s World Aids Day at Ukunda Showground where he said they could not provide county’s HIV and Aids figures due to the strike.
“We do not have actual statistics of those infected with the HIV virus but they will be released soon,” he added noting that the number was neither low nor high.
He, however, said adolescents and young people take the lead in HIV and Aids infections in the region.
He blamed the rapid spread of the disease among the youths on casual sex due to idleness saying the county government had started programmes like sports to keep them occupied.
“Idleness leads to early sex and drug abuse among the youths, hence such initiatives that will get them engaged to reduce the rate of HIV transmission,” he said.
However, Dr. Kishindo said mother-to-child HIV infections and among older adults had relatively reduced.
He welcomed the setting up of a medically assisted treatment clinic for rehabilitation purpose at Kombani had also helped in reducing the HIV transmission among drug addicts.
The officer said they have been issuing out Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) drugs to all those exposed to the virus to curb its spread.
PreP is an antiretroviral drug taken daily by HIV negative people who are at risk of HIV infections to reduce their chances of becoming infected.
Mr. Ahmed Said from Teens Watch, a harm reduction organisation, said their organisation is working towards the reduction of the HIV infection rate among drug addicts with help from the county government.
This, he noted, has been achieved through enhanced public awareness campaigns, issuing of sterile syringes to injection drug users to avert sharing needles.
Also in place is a reintegration programme for reformed addicts through which they engage in income generating activities like farming to improve their livelihoods.
By James Muchai