Government must plan well to avert health crises

Activists demand for funding and support to fight for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. [File, Standard]

The elevation of Kenya to a middle income country raised our international status. Yet, good as that might be, it negatively impacted some aspects of the country's health services. Kenya's climb up from a low-income to a middle-income country took it out of the international donor funding bracket.

Funding for malaria, HIV and Aids, reproductive health, blood services, immunisation and tuberculosis is being phased out gradually and will stop in 2027. Unfortunately, long before the final pullout, the effects of the funding withdrawal are already being felt.

There are reports of shortages of contraceptives, condoms, ARVs and testing kits. This comes at a time when data from the Ministry of Health estimates that 53,236 women living with HIV receive ARV prophylaxis to prevent transmission to their newborn children.

Since 2003, the US has supported HIV/Aids programmes in the country by providing funding, free ARVs and other services under the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief's. Unfortunately, the funding started its gradual withdrawal in 2019.

From the initial Sh17 billion, the sum has dropped to Sh7.3 billion, resulting in inconsistent supply of ARVs and testing kits. This has affected 1.5 million people living with HIV, according to data from the National Aids Control Council (NACC).

The gradual phasing out of these internationally-funded programmes is meant to give the government time to find ways of filling the funding gap and ensure that gains made in the fight against malaria, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis are not clawed back to leave poor and vulnerable Kenyans to diseases they can ill afford to treat or manage.

Data from the Health ministry shows 6.1 million Kenyan women use modern contraceptive methods to keep their families within manageable numbers. One of the greatest impediments to sustained development is overpopulation which the government must take care of through contraceptives.

Even as the government finds ways of kick-starting the country's economy and improving agricultural production, health services, must be given special consideration through improved funding.