Kenyans who are living with HIV say their health is in jeopardy because the country is experiencing a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs that are donated by the U.S., the AP reports. A dispute has emerged between a U.S. aid agency, USAID, and the Kenyan government regarding who is responsible for the shortage.
As per the AP report, the delay is due to both the Kenyan government imposing a $847,902 tax on the U.S.’ drug donation and USAID not trusting the Kenya Medical Supplies authority.
According to the Kenyan government, Kenyans can expect to see HIV drugs distributed to 31 out of 47 Kenyan counties this week. Kenya’s health minister Mutahi Kagwe says drugs for 1.4 million people will cover two months worth of treatment.
However, Bernard Baridi— chief executive officer of Blast, an organization of young people living with HIV— states the drugs will only last for a month, as reported by AP News. He says the delay in distributing the drugs to Kenyans means people living with the virus are only getting a week’s supply as opposed to a three-month supply. Baridi is asking Kenya’s government and USAID to find a solution so that the drugs can be delivered quicker.
Last Thursday, in Kisumu— Kenya’s third-largest city—200 people living with HIV held a peaceful protest and carried signs that said “A sick nation is a dead nation” and “A killer government.”
Activist Boniface Ogutu Akach said, “We cannot keep quiet and watch this population languish just because they can’t get a medicine that is lying somewhere, and that is happening because the government wants to tax a donation.”