KENYA: HIV funding begins at home
Posted by African Press International on April 1, 2010
Photo: Edgar Mwakaba/IRIN
|Money for Kenyan patients from Kenyan coffers|
NAIROBI, ) – Smarting from two consecutive Global Fund rejections and declining donor interest, the Kenyan government is considering ways to fund its own national treatment programme.
Apart from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria rejecting Kenya’s proposals for HIV funding in rounds eight and nine, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has flat-lined its funding and the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) will be pulling out of funding paediatric ARVs in Kenya after the present fiscal period.
“Up to 2011, we are assured of PEPFAR support and we have enough support from the Global Fund [Round 7] and the CHAI [but] we still have a US$1.67 billion gap, of which $959 million is needed for treatment and care [up to 2013],” said Regina Ombam, head of strategy at the National AIDS Control Council (NACC), at a roundtable on HIV funding hosted by media NGO, Internews.
NACC has developed a raft of proposals for consideration by the Ministry of Finance which, if adopted, could go some way to offsetting the funding gap.
“With a 25 percent increase in premiums, NHIF [National Hospital Insurance Fund] would fund at least a quarter of the total need of [first-line] ARVs and [outpatient) opportunistic infection treatment,” said Ombam. “Since 58 percent of the financing gap in the Kenya National AIDS Strategic Plan is generated in the area of treatment and care, we feel that the first step of search for innovative financing should occur here.”
NACC has also proposed that the government enforce a 2 percent tax on mobile phone airtime, to raise $153 million over five years. Local press have reported that Safaricom, the country’s largest mobile phone network, has expressed willingness to participate in such a programme.
Kenya is part of UNITAID’s air ticket funding scheme, whereby a small levy on airline tickets and cargo goes towards HIV programmes; NACC hopes to use funds raised from outbound flights to buy ARVs.
Currently, the government spends only 6.9 percent of its total budget on health; NACC proposes that the Ministry of Finance live up to the Abuja Declaration of 2001, when African governments committed to spend at least 15 percent of the national budget on health.
If Kenya made this commitment starting with the upcoming 2010-2011 budget, Ombam noted, it could raise as much as $500 million for HIV over the next five years.
A paper will be prepared and presented to cabinet for approval and then for inclusion in the current budgeting process, due to end with the reading of the national budget on 30 June.