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Kenya, America three-year deal to eradicate HIV

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024 04:26 | By
President William Ruto and the US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman witness as Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and Clinton White, Counselor for USAID sign a pact that will enhance student and faculty exchange, joint research and innovation to accelerate the country’s Silicon Savannah ambition. PHOTO/PSC
President William Ruto and the US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman witness as Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and Clinton White, Counselor for USAID sign a pact that will enhance student and faculty exchange, joint research and innovation to accelerate the country’s Silicon Savannah ambition. PHOTO/PSC

Kenya and the United States have renewed commitment to eliminate HIV as a public health threat in Kenya by 2027.

At the same time, the governments have made several agreements to enhance collaboration in cutting-edge research and also a multi-billion-shilling investment in the digital health programme as Kenya prioritises preventive and promotive health in its Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

While the two countries took stock of a partnership spanning 45 years in the health sector, the US government announced a Sh4.1 billion ($31.1 million) investment in Kenya’s digital health infrastructure.

“This includes expanding the availability of electronic medical records at the clinic and community levels, building renewable solar power plants for hospitals, and linking pregnant women to ambulance services through mobile platforms,” said a statement through the US Embassy in Nairobi.

The HIV Sustainability Roadmap is one of the three agreements the two governments have signed this week as part of a wider plan to address health challenges affecting communities from the two countries.

President William Ruto is leading a large delegation of officials from both the national and county governments. He left the country on Sunday night.

Sustainable plans

In the HIV Sustainability Roadmap, an agreement between the Ministry of Health and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the two governments are planning to collaborate in developing a sustainable plan towards elimination of the disease.

“To solidify the partnership between the two countries and ensure the collaboration is addressing the global health needs of tomorrow, the governments signed three agreements,” the statement reads in part.

The governments through the CDC Kenya and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support cutting-edge research. This is meant to address the most urgent public health questions, currently, and also facilitate the unveiling of the Applied Science Hub in western Kenya.

President’s Ruto’s tour of the US also witnessed a joint proclamation between CDC and the Government of Kenya, taking stock of the two countries’ 45 years of health partnership. This will also see a joint endeavour to operationalize the Kenya National Public Health Institute to strengthen health security in Kenya, the region, and globally.

Address malaria challenges

For 45 years, it was noted the US has invested up to Sh66 billion ($500 million) to address challenges of malaria, HIV/AIDS, Covid-19, and other disease threats among Kenyans.

This funding has been through a number of US government agencies including; the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); PEPFAR, CDC, Department of Defence (DOD), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Food and Drug Authority (FDA), among others.

“These investments have increased the life expectancy in Kenya by over 12 years, produced groundbreaking research to fight diseases around the world, and provided hope for a healthy future for millions of Kenyans,” the statement said.

The United States and Kenya, the country’s Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman said, celebrate their long-standing partnership to improve the health of Kenyans. She noted that the new agreements signed on Monday evening are aimed at ensuring that the partnership continues into the future.

“Investing in Kenya’s health security protects Kenyans, Americans, and the world,” said Whitman, adding: “Improving health outcomes creates a foundation for stronger civil society, sustainable economic growth, and secure communities.”

The event also included a presentation from Revital Healthcare, which has built the largest medical diagnostic factory in Africa with a Sh303 million ($2.3 million) grant from USAID.

The factory is capable of producing 240 million tests per year for HIV, malaria, dengue fever, hepatitis B/C, syphilis, and pregnancy. President Ruto’s visit underscored the U.S.-Kenya partnership to build healthier communities in both countries.  “In forty years, the Kenya-US CDC partnership has enhanced Kenya’s health infrastructure, conducted research, and implemented interventions that have saved numerous lives by curbing infectious diseases,” President Ruto said.

Kemri and CDC renewed the MoU to continue partnering in cutting-edge research on a reciprocal basis.

The MoU signed on Monday in the presence of President Ruto is part of his state visit in the US, and will enhance collaboration between the two institutions.

Ruto is accompanied by among others; Prime Cabinet Secretary, Musalia Mudavadi and Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakhumicha and a host of governors and members of the Cabinet.

The MoU will also facilitate research and capacity building for public health threats and emergencies, dissemination and application of research findings for policy formulation, training of public health professionals, strengthening research leadership and laboratory capabilities among others.

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