US should ignore Kenyan MPs' petition over Pepfar

When President William Ruto hosted US SEnator Chris Coons and Ambassador Meg Whitman at State House Nairobi. [PCS]

A group of Kenyan MPs are reported to have written to some their counterparts in the US Congress over the spending in Kenya of funds donated under the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar).

The 10 MPs alleging that the Pepfar funds were being used to finance family planning and reproductive health principle, including abortion.

Consequently, the Republicans demanded that the 2023-2024 Pepfar funding to Kenya, which expected this month, be suspended until the matter is resolved. There is a possibility that the funding will be delayed and, depending on the decision of the US lawmakers, even scrapped. Whatever the case, Kenya will be the loser.

We do not know what evidence our lawmakers, who said in their missive said they wanted to express their "concerns and suspicions about this funding", have. But we do know that abortion is a divisive subject in this country. We also understand that our lawmakers are motivated by a noble mission; to protect the lives of unborn children.

But all said and done, we wonder whether they considered the other side of the coin before petitioning the US lawmakers; that their action would likely lead to exactly what they abhor and want to stop - loss of lives and imperilling of the lives of millions of other Kenyans.

This is because if the Pepfar funding is halted, the lives of more than one million Kenyans who depend on Pepfar to access anti-retroviral drugs will be in danger while millions of other Kenyans will be at risk of contracting the virus if organisations that fight HIV/Aids and rely on Pepfar funding grind to a halt.

The US lawmakers should therefore look at the bigger picture and resist the temptation to stop the funding for it is crystal clear that the move would wreak havoc. In any case "suspicions" can't be relied upon to take such action. It would have been more prudent for these MPs to lodge their grievances in the local Parliament. For the sake of millions of lives that will be at stake if the MPs' wish is granted, we urge the MPs to withdraw their petition.