Speech by His Excellency The Governor Peter Munya, Meru County, At The HIV Interactive Forum at KEMU
On behalf of the Meru County Government and Residents, and on my own behalf as the Governor of Meru County… l welcome you to Meru County. We feel greatly honoured that National AIDS Control Council (NACC), UNAIDS and other partners in the HIV sub-Sector has chosen to visit and hold an interactive HIV related meeting in Meru County today.
It is good we meet here today, at this forum, to discuss HIV related issues and what we can do together to address the epidemic. I am happy to be part of this meeting which seeks to provide home grown solutions to address the HIV epidemic in the County and contribute to the broader national response.
Meru County, like most other Counties in Kenya is affected by the HIV epidemic, and which has continued to undermine our efforts to provide better life and opportunities for our people. While the HIV prevalence in Meru County remains below the national average, at about 3% compared to the national one at 5.6%, the epidemic has left many children orphaned and made the community poorer.
This meeting will therefore help us in aligning the response mechanisms, from an informed perspective, with our development plans in order to achieve our set targets.
Am happy to note that different program interventions are yielding positive results in the County and the country at large. This is as a result of systematic implementation of strategies and programme interventions by different stakeholders geared towards curbing the spread of the HIV epidemic. My Government will work closely with other stakeholders and the communities who bear the greatest disease burden to develop suitable contextualised programmes to address HIV issues in the County. This will ultimately have a bearing in the end on our desired results.
However, I note with concern the large number of people in Meru County who have never tested for HIV. Statistics show that about 50% of the residents are yet to know their HIV status; and this undermines our quest to curb the epidemic in our County.
My Government, together with partners, will undertake to scale up HIV programmes to ensure that majority of Meru County residents test to know their status and access HIV services.
Ladies and gentlemen, Meru County is endowed with a lot of resources which if fully exploited will transform the lives of our people. However this can only be realised if we have a healthy working population that fully participates in production and wealth creation activities.
It’s on this note that I reiterate that my Government will support the scaling up of Anti-Retroviral Treatment aimed at curbing new infections through resource allocation and improvement of health facilities in the County to improve access and service delivery. This is critical and, if achieved, will go a long way in addressing challenges of delayed access to care and treatment for about 68% of the people who test HIV positive in our County; and this will also reduce the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV. The current statistics show that about 70% of pregnant women in Meru County do not deliver in health facilities. This has implications for our ability to contribute to the elimination of mother to child transmission in Meru County and in Kenya.
As I conclude, I want to reiterate that my Government will prioritize the fight against the HIV epidemic in the County Plans.
I urge all of us to use this forum to give ideas and strategies that will help us in shaping our County programs for more effective and sustainable HIV response.