In a prelude to what promises to be a hot issue this July at the International AIDS Conference in Washington DC, hundreds of activists marched in Nairobi, Kenya on April 25th to protest potential cuts to the country’s AIDS funding.
Recent reports suggest that the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has $1.46 billion in unspent funds, with $500 million unspent in Kenya. These funds were originally appropriated to provide lifesaving treatment and services to people living with HIV. Now the unspent money is at risk of being transferred elsewhere or cut altogether.
Earlier this week a coalition of civil society organizations delivered a memorandum to the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Scott Gration, demanding that unspent funds be invested into scale-up of treatment in Kenya. The signatories of the memorandum included: the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), AIDS Law Project – Kenya, Dandora AIDS Support Group, Health GAP, Kenya Network of Women with AIDS and ITPC, among many others. The coalition also delivered messages to the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the Federal Government.
Dr. Mina Nakawuka, AHF East/West Africa Advocacy Manager, addressing the media.
This revelation comes at a time when only about 30% of HIV positive Kenyans in need of lifesaving antiretroviral treatment are receiving it. The Country Operational Plan that is currently being reviewed by PEPFAR Headquarters in Washington does not call for more accelerated treatment enrollment, even though millions of dollars are sitting unspent.
Join the “Keep the Promise” March on Washington and tell U.S. officials that unspent money for HIV treatment and care costs lives. There is no excuse for letting people go without treatment, especially when millions of dollars that have already been budgeted sit idly, unspent.