Ambassador Godec’s Remarks at Launch of the KENPHIA

Ambassador Godec’s Remarks at
Launch of the Kenya Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (KENPHIA)
June 05, 2018

Chief Administrative Secretary for the Ministry of Health, Dr. Rashid Aman; other distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen; mabibi na mabwana; Hamjambo!  Good morning.  Habari zenu?

Thank you so much for the invitation to join you here on this important occasion.  I would also like to acknowledge my colleagues from ICAP, PEPFAR, USAID, CDC, the Global Fund, and the UN family.  I commend the other Government of Kenya partners that have been pivotal to this process, such as the National AIDS Control Council, National Bureau of Statistics, and the National Council for Population and Development.  Additionally, I realize that the engagement of the counties would not be possible without the involvement of the Council of Governors and other county officials.  And lastly, thank you to the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya for helping to carry the message of KENPHIA, along with the many other important partners here today.

Change is always a challenge.  Decisions that result in significant change, where people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, must be informed by the best possible information.  In the world of health, we rely on the knowledge and skill of scientific experts, such as epidemiologists, laboratory technicians, and statisticians, who help us make the best decisions about policies and programs that improve the lives of our fellow citizens.

The 2018 Kenya Population-based HIV Impact Assessment, or KENPHIA, is a tool for decision-making.  It was designed to provide data the Government of Kenya needs to plan for, implement, and monitor its HIV prevention, care, and treatment programs.  It is clear that data from KENPHIA will have an impact on men, women, and children affected by HIV.

In 2013, the World Health Organization updated its guidelines and recommended that HIV treatment start earlier for adults, children, and pregnant women.  Kenya had to make important decisions about its own policies.  Data from the 2012 Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey were critical to the decision-making process for revising the HIV treatment guidelines and for expanding the criteria for HIV-positive Kenyans eligible to receive antiretroviral treatment.  And now, KENPHIA will provide the Ministry of Health and county governments with critical and relevant data that will be used to improve the quality of HIV treatment and other services so that Kenya can move towards an HIV-free generation.

These changes have an impact on what the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – PEPFAR – calls combination prevention.  Studies show that early treatment reduces the likelihood that someone living with HIV will transmit to others.  And opting to continue treatment for pregnant and breastfeeding women improves the health of mothers and their current and future children.  With over 1 million Kenyans receiving life-saving anti-retroviral therapy and over 82,000 Kenya children affected by HIV currently receiving services, Kenya has one of the most successful PEPFAR country programs in the world.  These outcomes serve as reminders that for the first time, the global community has the opportunity to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic without a vaccine or a cure.  The U.S. government will continue to support this trend of success to help ensure the sustainability of HIV services in Kenya.

I know that the Government of Kenya is up to the challenge and has the capacity to implement change.  And I continue to be impressed with the progress that has been made in Kenya to strengthen health systems, in particular the work done to address the HIV epidemic.

I would like to take a moment to stress the importance of one other part of the effort to ensure all Kenyans receive the best possible medical care: the fight against corruption.  Kenya’s epidemic of corruption has been much in the news recently, and I simply stress again: corruption must end.  The only solution is zero tolerance.  I welcome the words and actions of President Kenyatta and the recent prosecutions.  However, this is just the beginning, not the end.  Further strong, sustained steps are needed.  Corruption is theft.  Money taken illegally from the health sector deprives Kenyans of medical care they need.  The United States stands with all Kenyans determined to put an end to theft and to build a better future.

The United States has had a close relationship with Kenya for over 50 years and because of that relationship, it has been an honor and a privilege to collaborate with so many dedicated partners to improve the lives of the Kenyan people.  We will continue to support Kenya in building strong health systems and in achieving its goals

Again, I congratulate the Kenyan government and our many partners here on the launch of KENPHIA and wish you all the best in the coming days as you embark on this ambitious survey that will reach over 18,000 households across all 47 counties in the nation.

Pamoja tusonge mbele.

Asenteni sana.