Elgeyo Marakwet County government with the help of donors and community participation is looking into setting up rescue centers in every ward of the county.
The county which currently has no rescue centre is setting up the centres as a way of giving a safe space to victims of rape, gender based violence and children living with disabilities that are neglected in the community.
Speaking during world AIDS day held at Cheptongei, Marakwet West Sub County, Governor Alex Tolgos said that the county has set aside funds to enable the setting up of the rescue centres.
He told stakeholders to come up with a plan, a road map of what the rescue centres required so that they could efficiently cater for the need of the children and women. “Let’s have a place where our children can run to when they are in dire need,” said the Governor.
He noted that there has been an increase in teenage pregnancies and gender based violence which he attributed to Covid – 19 and increase in alcohol and drug abuse.
He said teenage pregnancy has increased from 10% in 2013 to 26% in 2021, a worrying trend which has shown a parenting challenge in the region.
“It goes without saying that an increase in teenage pregnancy is a spike towards the levels of unsafe sex within the young and precious generation,” he said.
Tolgos reiterated that unsafe sex not only leads to early pregnancies but also puts teens at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and even cervical cancer owing to infections from HPV (human papillomavirus).
He noted that Elgeyo Marakwet County still has stigma not only in regards to HIV but also teenage pregnancy making girls hide pregnancies leading them missing out on critical antenatal care which could help reduce mother to child transmission in cases of HIV.
HIV prevalence in the County is at 2.1% with estimated people living with the disease to be 6, 336 where 4, 129 have been identified and were on ARVs which is equivalent to 65% of the infected population with 267 being adolescents between the ages 10-19 years.
“We must appreciate the war done so far in terms of identifying people living with the virus from 2, 747 in 2018 to the current statistics in 2021,” he said.
He added that as the world marked AIDS day, let everyone get tested to know their status and strive to live a safe life.
By Rennish Okong’o