UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE, HUMAN RIGHTS AND HEALTH JUSTICE NOW!
On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2018, NEPHAK gladly joins the Ministry of Health with renewed commitment to partnership to deliver on the 90.90.90 HIV treatment targets and ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
The World AIDS Day 2018 theme of ‘Live life positively—know your HIV status’ reiterates the fact that HIV testing remains the only way to know your status and to adopt a healthy life plan and best captures the aspirations of universal health coverage. For NEPHAK and the entire PLHIV Community, the improvement of health and well-being of communities can only be guaranteed through HIV – sensitive universal health coverage. We at NEPHAK firmly shares on the position that Health is a human right but recognize that we have a long way to go until everyone—no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have—can get the quality health care they need and deserve. The call for universal health coverage is also inspired by the Kenya 2010 constitution (Article 43).
We note that HIV – related stigma and discrimination is still high in Kenya. We are particularly concerned about stigma and discrimination facing children and adolescents born and living with HIV at homes, in learning institutions, in healthcare settings and at community levels. This stigma must stop if we want to win the war on AIDS. We at NEPHAK extend our invitation to the government and other partners to join hands with us and other community networks to educate
communities on how to redress and eventually eliminate stigma facing children and adolescents living with, at risk of and affected by HIV. It is the position of NEPHAK that HIV – related stigma will end only through meaningful engagement with PLHIV networks.
NEPHAK is in agreement with the UNAIDS report, Knowledge is power, which opines that one of the biggest barriers to HIV testing is stigma and discrimination. Studies among women, men, young people and key populations have revealed that fear of being seen accessing HIV services, and if the person is diagnosed, fear that this information will be shared with family, friends, sexual partners or the wider community, was preventing them from accessing HIV services, including HIV testing. We therefore call for a HIV response that is based on a human rights approach and which guarantees privacy and confidentiality and respect for consent.
With HIV treatment increasingly becoming accessible to the PLHIV in Kenya, our attention must now turn to HIV related co-infections and comorbidities. Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of sickness and death among PLHIV in Kenya. At the same time, cases of non-communicable diseases among PLHIV are increasing at alarming rates. Only through HIV – sensitive universal health coverage can the AIDS related deaths be brought to a halt.
Our World AIDS Day call!
Living life positively—know one’s HIV status’ will require that information, commodities, supplies and services needed to test, prevent and treat HIV are available to those who need them in a predictable and sustainable manner. This can only be guaranteed with increased investment in HIV and health. Clearly, the Government of Kenya will be required to do more:
The Kenya government (at both national and county levels) must increase direct allocation to health and HIV. The rationale for increased investment in HIV response is based on the fact that spending on accelerated scale-up will generate huge health benefits and vastly greater economic returns. Also, increased government allocation will help leverage the support from external partners.
Renewed commitment is needed to support the active and meaningful involvement of PLHIV as a key principle of HIV response. The engagement of PLHIV networks should be key pillar of the community system strengthening to bolster the role of communities in the
response to HIV. Investing in PLHIV networks is the sure way to reduce stigma, improve
treatment literacy, strengthen community-facility linkage and facilitate retention to care.
Foster an enabling legal and policy environment at the national and county level to ensure
access to services and justice by PLHIV. This calls for addressing sexual and gender based
violence, forced and/or coerced sterilization of WLHIV, harmful cultural practices, early
marriages and HIV criminalization. Here, we also commit to work with partners to ensure
that the HIV and AIDS Tribunal, which aims to improve access to legal and social justice and
protection from stigma and discrimination achieves its mandate as stipulated in the
HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act.
Strengthen health service delivery system, including laboratories for the provision of HIV
services such as HIV Viral Load testing integrated with essential health package. Provide
diagnosis for opportunistic infections, including Tuberculosis and screen PLHIV for other
non-communicable disease so that other conditions that lead to unnecessary deaths among
PLHIV is eliminated.
For more information: www.nephak.or.ke
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