Lee Njagi, an official in the ministry of health and his counterpart from the ministry of education, Margaret Mwirigi, joined their counterparts from other African countries to participate in the three weeks training program on HIV/Aids prevention, care and management.
During an interview with Xinhua in Nairobi on Friday, the officials said the training improved their knowledge of the killer disease.
“Our training revolved around basic control measures on HIV/Aids for African countries. We learnt how China managed the disease and how we can apply those lessons here in Kenya,” said Njagi.
Kenya is among the top five countries that have the highest HIV/Aids burden globally. Statistics from the ministry of health indicate that 1.6 million Kenyans are living with the Aids virus while an estimated 850,000 are taking anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).
Njagi noted that Kenya could borrow best practices from China to help reduce new infections and strengthen care and management of the infected citizens.
“China has a unique model of dealing with HIV/Aids. The country’s major success has been on research and innovative ways of dealing with specific risk groups like commercial sex workers, intravenous drug users and gays,” said Njagi, adding that China has launched vibrant interventions to reduce mother to child transmission of the Aids virus.
During the training in China, Njagi visited rehabilitation centers for high risk groups who shared experiences that could inform roll-out of high impact interventions for their counterparts in Kenya.
“In Kenya, the ministry of health and lobby groups are proactively engaging with the high risk groups, but we need to scale up this effort through testing and advocacy to fight stigma,” Njagi said.
Kenya has made a significant milestone in the war against the Aids pandemic though challenges like stigma and over-reliance on external funding could derail this progress.
Njagi underscored the need for the government and multilateral partners to reboot preventive measures and fight stigma affecting the infected, as well as to revitalize HIV research and advocacy.
“We can draw lessons from China that has made progress in HIV research and relies on factual statistics to inform response to the disease. China has invested in research and does not rely on foreign aid to combat Aids,” said Njagi,noting that traditional Chinese medicine has assisted HIV positive individuals fight opportunistic infections.
“Already, we have initiated outreach programs targeting high risk groups and have re-invigorated awareness and testing.
We have also launched a new strategy to control mother to child transmissions,” Njagi revealed
Margaret Mwirigi,senior director in the ministry of education, said China funded training program improved her knowledge on HIV response among adolescents and youth.
“After the training, I have initiated a program to build the capacity of teachers to handle HIV positive learners. We have conducted sensitization workshops and have developed a sector plan to support HIV positive learners with emphasis on prevention, treatment and care,” Mwirigi told Xinhua.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in February launched a comprehensive program to reduce HIV infections and deaths among adolescents and youth. According to the ministry of health, an estimated 260,000 Kenyan adolescents and youth are living with HIV/Aids.
Mwirigi stressed that Kenya should apply China’s successful models on awareness, research and treatment to enhance response to HIV/Aids infections among the youth. Enditem