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HIV among children down, says First Lady

Dickens Wasonga @PeopleDailyKe

Cases of new HIV infections among children has significantly gone down from an estimated 13,000 in 2013 to 6,100 in 2016, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said yesterday.

The First Lady attributed the drop to aggressive campaigns by various players.

Speaking during the launch of Beyond Zero Medical Safari in Kisumu yesterday, Kenyatta said the fall in infection levels demonstrated the value of results-oriented partnerships between the national and county governments and other players such as Beyond Zero Campaign.

Early diagnosis

During the launch,  Beyond Zero donated a point of care machine to  Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital. 

The machine is expected to boost early diagnosis of HIV among infants and mothers.

The testing device has the capacity to produce results for HIV diagnosis in just one hour and can do eight tests per day. It is expected to enhance efforts to combat the virus whose prevalence rates in the region is two per cent among children between the ages of six weeks and nine months.

“This technology will reduce the turnaround time for receiving babies’ results of HIV positive mothers from 30 to 90 days to 24 hours,” she said .

Apart from supporting early diagnosis of HIV, the machine will make the tests cheaper and boost access.

Margaret said the Beyond Zero campaign was committed to the health of mothers, new borns and children.

She also launched the elimination of mother to child transmission eMTCT of HIV from mother to child business plan, the second one after the one she launched in Narok county.

Margaret said the eMTCT business plan and the testing kit are important in building momentum in readiness to the WHO validation in 2021 of having less than five per cent transmission rates across all Kenyan facilities.

Free services

Thousands of locals turned up to benefit from the free medical services  including fistula repairs, screening for cervical, breast and prostate cancers, eye care clinic, orthopedic clinic for children, screening of heart diseases, diabetes and hypertension.

Others included HIV counseling and testing, immunization and check up for pregnant mothers assessment and registration for children with disabilities and NHIF membership registration.

Equal access

The First Lady said the life cycle approach of services offered during the safaris places people at the centre of health care systems, providing an opportunity to address the changing health needs through quality of care.

“Our focus is promoting equal access to quality health services, reaching out to those left behind in health matters and helping the government achieve Universal Health Coverage, “ she said.

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