At least 1,751 community health volunteers on Sunday graduated at a colorful ceremony that marked the World’s AIDS Day in Kiambu County.
This number is a boost to the workforce in the County’s health sector which must be celebrated as it is envisaged that it will help strengthen Universal Health Care sector in the 130 community health units within the County.
Among the graduands were 24 infection prevention control trainer of trainers who are expected to address other infections that could occur 59 community health extension workers who will support in sensiting the community health volunteers, 153 basic health volunteers, 95 community nutrition workers who were trained to address nutrition challenges among HIV positive as well as the general public.
Other graduands were 64 community health volunteers who trained in post-partum intrauterine device who will be trained to mobilize the pregnant mothers on the long lasting Methods.The target group receives this immediately after birth or within 24 hours
The celebrations held at Kahawa Wendani Primary School also witnessed the graduation of 20 HIV Exposed Infants.
The infants were born with HIV virus but were put on medication lasting two two years which has helped them to heal, therefore, changing their status.
The Kiambu County Executive Member-In-Charge of Health (CEC), Ms Mary Kamau, noted that it was a step in the right direction to have the infants grow out of the virus.
“After support and constant medical care the children are now negative upon being tested and this was a reason to celebrate as the County Government of Kiambu put measures in place to curb new infections. The prevention of mother to child transmission PMTCT need is at 1510,” she said.
Events to mark the worlds AIDS Day celebration revealed the level of awareness, acceptance and exposure to medication through song, dance and poems.
In her remarks, the County Executive Health boss, advised those present to stop stigmatizing those who were affected by the virus.
She said if the citizens embraced their brothers and sisters, they would feel free to talk about themselves.
They will also feel free to visit health centers or VCT’s to know their status which will go a long way to help the person and those they associated with, thus helping to contain the rising figure.
According to 2018 Data by the CEC, Kiambu has a HIV prevalence of 40 per cent, which she noted was high despite the efforts being taken by the Government and there was need to strengthen the systems so as to reduce the number of new infections.
She said there were 59,016 people estimated to be living with HIV with 37,688 on Anti retroviral therapy (ARV) with a viral suppression of 88 percent. Estimate of 36,859 have already been identified male being 2.1 while female being 5.9 percent. She added that an estimated 2,507 adolescents(10-19 years) live with HIV whereas its estimated that youth (15-24 years) 5,369 live with the virus in Kiambu county.
Mrs. Kamau revealed that the county of Kiambu had 249,529 children under five years and 562,431 women of child bearing age (15-49) years affected by HIV virus .
Saying that the figures painted a gloomy picture for Kiambu County, she called for concerted efforts from the people to come out in large numbers and access medical services which she said were free and available.
“The Government is concerned about the welfare of her people and has done her part. It is upon you citizens to do your part by availing yourselves to know your status so that you know how to chart your future and take better steps in remaining healthy,” she said.
On his part the Member of Parliament(MP) for Ruiru which hosted the County Event, Simon King’ara, appealed to the Governor of Kiambu County, Dr. James Nyoro, to extend hours of operations at VCT’s.
“ I kindly appeal to the Governor that these services in Ruiru Sub-county be done at night. Since most young people in my region who are the most affected are at their work place during the day and can, therefore, not get time to access the service,” he appealed.
The MP noted that Ruiru was industrial Sub-County where many workers were required to contribute to the economic status of the County as a whole but owing to the competition of the few jobs available, many will prefer to keep their jobs at the expense of their health which he regretted was dangerous.
Responding, Dr. Nyoro said the Government of Kiambu would look into the issue and advice the medics accordingly.
“ We in the leadership of Kiambu must co-operate and listen to views of our people on the best way to achieve Universal Health Care which is one of the Big Four agenda of President Uhuru Kenyatta, said Dr. Nyoro.
The health services were at the disposal of those who attended the function who visited the health workers as specific locations for whatever service they needed.There was slots for testing for HIV, Cancer of the cervix, blood pressure and diabetics which people accessed alongside the events of the day.
By Lydia Shiloya