Stakeholders in fear over reduction of donor contribution to HIV/AIDS management, pleads for govt help

By Nicholas Waitathu
Thursday, June 17th, 2021 19:32 | 3 mins read

Development partners have of late reduced their financial and material support to the management of HIV/AIDS prompting a debate on sustainable domestic financing.

Health stakeholders argue that the recent economic downturn resulting from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has further compounded the outlook for healthcare funding, including HIV thus posing danger to the achievement of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) noted that management of HIV/AIDS in Kenya for years has heavily depended on financial support from the donor community to the tune of 68 per cent.

The National AIDS Control Council (NACC) and other partners are facilitating a debate on sustainable domestic financing for HIV response to assess Kenya’s preparedness for the transition in funding, explore alternative innovative financing models for HIV services.

Vernon Mochache Oyaro, NACC Deputy Director in charge of Policy, Monitoring and Research explained that the management of HIV/AIDS infections is facing pressure owing to declining funds especially from the donor community.

“There is pressure on the control of the pandemic due to resource reduction. Even the continued budgetary allocations in the past years have not helped either. For example, the funds drop is making it hard to manage the current 1.5 million HIV/AIDs infections out of which 1.2 million are on antiretroviral treatment,” Dr. Mochache said.  

He made the remarks this week at a Nairobi hotel during the Maisha Conference 2021, a conference on sustainable domestic financing for HIV response.

He added, “There is a need to explore new resource mobilisation strategies with a view to assuring a smooth operation.” 

Oyaro stated that the debate further seeks to explore the prospect of local manufacturing of affordable HIV commodities, to leverage economies of scale like it is happening in other African countries.  

Matungulu MP Stephen Mule who is also a member of the health parliamentary committee stated that the donor financial basket on funding the HIV/AIDs has been dwindling over the years.

This has prompted  Mule argued, a new thinking to prevent disruption of the control of the scourge and as well as ensuring the health sector remains vibrant.     

The National Treasury and Planning cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani while reading the 2021/22 budget statement allocated Sh47.7 billion to finance activities and programmes for the attainment of UHC.

Out of the amount  Yatani explained Sh8.7 billion will be extended to fund the Kenya COVID 19 Emergency Response Project, Sh4.1 billion for Free Maternity Health Care, Sh7.2 billion for the Managed Equipment Services as well as Sh1.8 billion to provide medical cover for the elderly and severely disabled persons in our society.

“To lower cases of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and tuberculosis in the country, Sh5.8 billion has been set aside. To enhance vaccines and immunization programmes, we have set aside Sh3.9 billion. Further, Sh14.3 billion will be expended for the purchase of COVID 19 vaccines and related expenditures in the course of FY 2021/22,” said Mr. Yatani.

MP Mule urged stakeholders to agree to fast track various options geared towards enhancing sound health financing.

“Using the provision provided for under the County Health Act, stakeholders need to prevent diversion of resources meant for health services to other uses. Ensure prudent procurement of goods and services in the sector and push for quick implementation of the UHC,” said MP Mule. 

He added stakeholders ought to embrace innovation in terms of response mobilisation, for example, the mobile and internet banking, supporting grassroots health service providers and exploiting opportunities provided by the Finance Bill 2021.  

Kenya Private Sector Alliance Foundation (KEPSAF) chairman Patrick Obath observed that even though there is need for further financing in the health sector owing to dwindling donor contribution, the private sector ought to ensure integrity.

“We have witnessed in the recent past exaggeration on health services cost by a section of the private and public sector providers. For example, the health insurance consumers have suffered due to high costs. There is a need by the providers to ensure provision of the same needs to be corruption free,” said Eng. Obath. 

He added, both Governments need to ensure the health systems are effective to restore investors’ confidence.

Wainaina Gituro from the School of Business University of Nairobi said sustainable domestic financing of HIV services needs to be scaled going forward owing to the continued reduction of the donor input.

“Donor reliance is no longer reliable as the development partners’ financial mobilisation is also facing challenges.  Therefore, the financial gap in the local health sector demands a new thinking. Equally, there is a need for the stakeholders to develop strategies geared towards tapping local sources like the pension industry, diaspora remittances  and push for effective use of the paid taxes,” said Professor Wainaina. 

He urged the Government to guarantee efficiency ought to desist from doing business in the health sector saying the same is scaring away investors.

Nicholas Waitathu