12 February 2016

Kenya to Reduce New HIV Infections By 75 percent in 2017 - First Lady

Photo: Wendy Stone/IRIN
(file photo)

Accra — First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has said Kenya is committed to reducing new HIV infections by 75 percent and eliminate mother to child infections by 2017.

She said there is a sense of urgency to scale up the country's health interventions by increasing resource allocations and strengthening the country's overall health system delivery.

"Kenya is in the acceleration phase, working towards elimination of mother to child HIV infections", she said when she addressed participants at the ongoing 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (ACSHR).

But to achieve these targets, she said, the Kenyan youth who are key stakeholders in the All-In campaign to reduce HIV infections must be empowered and economically facilitated.

The First Lady said it is essential to fully engage the youth who are the custodians of the All-In campaign by embracing relevant communication platforms, applied action plans and the commitment of youth funds with specific targets.

The First Lady spoke during the launch of a United Continental All-In Adolescent HIV campaign in Accra, Ghana.

The All-In campaign adopts a coordinated multi-sectoral response to end new infections and Aids related deaths among adolescent and young people across Africa.

President Uhuru Kenyatta launched Kenya's All-in edition of the Global campaign against adolescent infection and deaths by HIV/Aids in February 2015.

The Health Plan launched by the President is a two year roadmap to fast track the country's national targets towards a 75 percent reduction of HIV by next year.

Besides the host country, the conference is also being attended by other First Ladies from Mali, Ivory Coast, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Cote d' Ivore and Burkina Faso.

To achieve the health targets it has set for itself, said the First Lady, Kenya will make the right decisions, right recommendations and engage sustainable partnerships.

The multi-sectoral approach adopted by Kenya in the campaign incorporates several ministries that deal with the youth especially the ministry of Education and Health.

"The Ministries of Education and Health together have also introduced HIV education in schools to influence behaviour change and reduce HIV vulnerability among our young people in Kenya", she added.

The First Lady however said there is room to do much more for the youth including allowing their voices and concerns to be heard.

She also regretted that income and economic dependency compromises the negotiating power of women and young girls in the war against HIV/Aids

"As a result, girls are recorded to have the largest number of new HIV cases," she said.

The First Lady said there is need to empower women to enable them make informed health decisions for themselves and their families.

"With committed leadership at all levels, we can collectively achieve goals to reverse the trend of new HIV infections in Africa," she said.

The First Lady said Kenya has launched the DREAMS initiative, focusing on adolescents and young girls. DREAMS seeks to inspire: Determination, Resilience and Empower AIDS-free Mentored Safe Women.

She said Kenya's efforts are aligned to the overall objectives of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) for a free generation in Africa.

The First Ladies also presented a three-point joint communiqué committing themselves to put in place mechanisms to mobilize resources, take action and engage meaningful participation of the adolescents in decision making , all aimed at stopping new HIV infections among women and adolescent girls.

This will ensure Aids is no longer the leading cause of death among adolescents across the continent.

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