KENYA: Health centre to treat HIV/AIDS patients inaugurated
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
NAIROBI, 28 April (PLUSNEWS) - Kenya's health ministry and the medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), on Thursday inaugurated a new facility designed to provide comprehensive health care to people living with HIV/AIDS in the capital, Nairobi.
The Comprehensive Care Centre (CCC), jointly run by the Ministry of Health and MSF-Belgium, will provide counselling, testing and treatment with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to those living with HIV.
Some 1,850 patients have already been receiving regular treatment at the centre, Moses Massaquioi, MSF's medical coordinator in Kenya told PlusNews. The health centre was set up inside the the Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi, and would also train the hospital's staff in diagnosis and care of HIV/AIDS patients.
MSF has been providing the ARVs free of change, but patients referred to the centre from other government health facilities were required to pay 400 Kenyan shillings (US $5) per month for tests and drugs, an amount health minister Charity Ngilu acknowledged many poor patients could not afford.
"Those who are poor and living with AIDS should not be denied treatment just because they are poor," Ngilu said at the inauguration ceremony.
MSF's head of mission in Kenya, Christine Jamet, said ARVs must be provided free of change. "Poverty should not be allowed to get in the way of care," she said.
Some 1.24 million Kenyans are living with HIV and 200,000 of them require ARV treatment. However, only 37,680 or 17 percent of those who need treatment were currently receiving ARVs, according to figures provided by MSF.
Ngilu said the ARV treatment programme would, by the end of this year, be extended to cover a total of 95,000 people. "The time to act is now," she said. "Let us not hold continuous meetings, we must start acting so that we can save lives."
The minister said AIDS was one of the factors that had contributed to the fall of the life expectancy of Kenyans from 60 years a decade ago to 47 years at present.
MSF has been implementing HIV/AIDS care programmes in Kenya in collaboration with the health ministry since 1996.