It’s tough times for babies living with HIV as the country grapples with a shortage of critical supplies that are meant to combat the pandemic.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the supply of antiretroviral drugs and HIV testing kits has dwindled, but promised a stable supply by January 2022 including alternative viral load and early infant testing kits.
Mr Kagwe attributed the seamless distribution of ARVs and early infant diagnosis reagents to a temporary global disruption in the commodity supply chain, resulting in those living with HIV receiving less than three-months’ supply of the life-saving medications.
“The Ministry of Health has been closely monitoring the global supply chain of all HIV commodities to ensure there are no stock-outs while exploring alternative viral load and early infant testing platforms,” he said.
In an earlier meeting with representatives of People Living with HIV to explore ways of resolving the stock challenges, Mr Kagwe noted that the ministry would consider venturing into local manufacturing of ARV drugs to guarantee stability of supplies.
He said the government would expedite procurement to have the commodities in the country in the next one month.
“We reassure the public that there are enough antiretroviral medications for all clients despite the reduced dispensation period to every client” said Mr Kagwe.
In September, Kenya introduced a strawberry-flavoured tablet for use by children living with HIV.
The flavoured paediatric formulation, dolutegravir, a drug recommended as first-line antiretroviral for HIV treatment by the World Health Organisation, has been hailed as a game changer in managing the virus in children as it makes treatment easier and cheaper.
The drug comes as a tablet that can be dissolved in water or juice, making it easier to give to children too young to swallow tablets.
Counties on this treatment include Kisumu, Homabay, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kilifi, Meru and Garissa.
The Ministry of Health plans to have rolled out the pediatric ART across Kenya by January.
Kenya has made significant progress in the HIV response. Out of the estimated 1.5 million people living with HIV, 1.2 million are currently on long-term, life-saving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).