County HIV/AIDS strategic plan launched
The county government has launched a five year strategic plan that seeks to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent.
The strategic plan 2014/15-2018/19 which is a culmination of a consultative process involving stakeholders in HIV and AIDS also aims to reduce new AIDS related mortality by 25 percent and reduce HIV related stigma and discrimination by 50 percent.
A total of 22, 523 people are living with HIV/AIDS in the county while new infections of about 500 people are recorded annually. Another goal of the strategic plan is to increase domestic financing of HIV responses to 50 percent.
The county government allocated Shs.7 million for various programmes meant to address HIV/AIDS in the 2016/17 financial year but Chief Officer for Health, Agnes Mana said they are working to increase the funds in the next financial year.
In a speech read on his behalf on Tuesday by Mana, Governor Josphat Nanok noted that the county’s prevalence rate was 4 percent terming the launch of the strategic plan a bold move towards reducing new infections of HIV, Aids related deaths and stigma.
Nanok said the county aims at mainstreaming all county’s interventions at all levels and to mainstream HIV and AIDS response into the county development agenda.
“Turkana County is among the high HIV prevalence counties and the new HIV infections have been estimated at 2,997 annually. As a county we must completely close the tap of new infections thus the premise of this document drawn from the eight strategic directions as provided by the Kenya AIDS strategic framework,” said Nanok.
“We have so many resources but we must ensure our people are alive to enjoy these benefits of oil, water and other resources in the county,” added Mana.
The National Aids Control Council Deputy Director for Policy, Monitoring and Research, John Kamigwi lauded the county government for the political will and good leadership in addressing HIV/AIDS.
He called for involvement of the private sector in order to win the fight against the disease.
Kamigwi cited alcohol and substance abuse, stigma, poverty, retrogressive cultural practices and low condom uptake as some of the challenges facing the county in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
He urged partners to work together to avoid duplication of programmes in the county.
“The Economic growth being witnessed in the county is an opportunity but if these resources are misused, they can become a threat in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” he said.
Transactional sex and high sexual activity among the fisher folk community is another challenge facing the county.
The Deputy Director for Preventive and Curative Health, Esimit Echakan said the county is ready to deal with emerging issues that will come with the construction of the Lodwar-Kitale highway.
“The economic growth will bring about new challenges such as influx of commercial sex workers in the towns and we are preparing to deal with these cases,” said Echakan.
By Peter Gitonga