There is a need for concerted efforts to curb new HIV infections especially among young people, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi has said.
On Friday, Mwangangi highlighted that 17 per cent of new infections currently in the country are among those aged between 10 and 19 years.
She noted despite efforts by the government to fight the pandemic, there is a big threat posed by the diseases among those within the productive age.
The National infection rate among adolescents, Mwangangi said, has declined from 78 per cent in 2016 to 37 per cent in 2021 observing that there is still a big burden associated with the disease.
Speaking in Murang’a during the launch of accelerated Covid-19 mass vaccination, Mwangangi urged parents to speak and advise their young children about the negative impact of HIV.
She said early sexual intercourse among young girls not only puts them at risk of getting pregnant but also exposes them to contract HIV.
“It’s very unfortunate that majority of parents fail to speak to their teenagers about sexual matters. Let it be a responsibility for each parent to speak to their children about HIV and early pregnancies,” said Mwangangi.
She added that management of HIV/AIDS in the country has been a big burden saying more than Sh25.8 billion is used on yearly basis to buy commodities for prevention and management of the disease.
“Cost of first line drugs for children infected with HIV costs the country Sh19, 219 per child per year. More other expenses are still there to help the victim manage the disease,” she further said.
The CAS said the new infection can be reduced if all stakeholders work together and spearhead the fight against HIV.
“In 2021, Murang’a County lost 29 adolescents due to diseases associated with HIV/AIDS and this is a wakeup call for Murang’a leaders and residents to take action to reduce the new infections,” she added.
Mwangangi further cautioned of increased gender based violence which is also affecting the youth saying the rate has increased to 85 per cent between 2016 and 2021.
She observed early teenage pregnancies are also posing health complications to young girls. “In the last six years, a total of 32, 000 teenage girls attended antenatal clinics which is equivalent to quarter of all those who attended the clinic.
“Teenage pregnancies come with many health problems and affect the productive organs of the young girl. Security agents, parents and every member in the community should play part to stop this menace. Let’s protect our young girls,” averred Mwangangi.
Meanwhile, Mwangangi lauded the work being done by the community health volunteers saying in the newly established health strategy they are at the centre in provision of primary health care.
She asked residents to elect leaders who will give health much needed attention saying poor politics results in poor service delivery in the health sector.
“There is a need to put in place leadership which will provide more resources in the health sector since without funds, people will continue to suffer for lack of medication,” remarked the CAS.
By Bernard Munyao and Florence Kinyua