EDITORIAL: Government’s neglect of HIV response in budget puts lives at risk

editor
EDITORIAL: Government’s neglect of HIV response in budget puts lives at risk

As we continue examining the details of the Finance Bill 2024, we are once again astonished to see how dismissively the government treats the health sector, in particular the fight against HIV.

It would appear that the government has failed to allocate funds for antiretroviral drugs in the 2024/25 budget. This is not only a grievous oversight but also a dereliction of duty that endangers the lives of at least 1.3 million Kenyans living with HIV.

The Ministry of Health had requested 14.1 billion shillings to procure these life-saving drugs, but the Treasury failed to include this in the budget.

This oversight comes at a time when donor funding, which has historically supported HIV programs in Kenya, is diminishing.

Ministry of Health requested 14.1 billion shillings to procure these HIV life-saving drugs, but the Treasury failed to include this in the budget. Photo: Ministry of Health
Ministry of Health requested 14.1 billion shillings to procure these HIV life-saving drugs, but the Treasury failed to include this in the budget. Photo: Ministry of Health

Currently, the cost of maintaining one HIV patient is approximately 20,000 shillings per year, a significant financial burden that the government appears unwilling to shoulder.

The lack of budgetary allocation for ARVs paints a troubling picture: a government overly reliant on the generosity of foreign donors to safeguard the health of its citizens.

This approach is risky as donor funding is never guaranteed. Foreign donors, including the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund, currently finance about 66% of Kenya’s HIV budget. This is just wrong.

It is critical for the government to step up and take full responsibility for the health of its citizens. Too much dependence on the goodwill of others is precarious and downright irresponsible for any government worth its salt.

Copy by Fred Indimuli- host Morning Cafe show

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